Concept albums are very unique and at times take a long time to fully understand. Listening to select songs doesn’t give you the full effect. And a lot of the time the story that accompanies the album is very convoluted. Though there are many cases when the above statements don’t apply. Pink Floyd, The Who and more recently Mastodon and Nine Inch Nails have been able to create epic concept albums that can stand on their own or as separate entities. In 2007, Nine Inch Nails released Year Zero.
“The Year Zero story takes place in the United States in the year 2022. The United States has suffered several major terrorist attacks, and in response the government has seized absolute control on the country and reverted to a Christian fundamentalist theocracy. The government maintains control of the populace through institutions such as the Bureau Of Morality as well as increased surveillance and the secret drugging of tap water with a mild sedative. In response to the increasing oppression of the government, several corporate, government, and subversive websites were transported back in time to the present by a group of scientists working clandestinely against the authoritarian government. The websites-from-the-future were sent to the year 2007 to warn the American people of the impending dystopian future and to prevent it from ever forming in the first place.”
So with that all mind one would think that this is just a mess, but in fact it’s the complete opposite. Trent never misses a step with creating this apocalyptic epic. This album was also the next step in Trent’s revitalized state of mind and musical odyssey. There are a lot of uses of noise, static, and strange yet amazing distortion. Certain songs stand out amongst the album as a whole such as “The Beginning Of The End,” “Survivalism,” “In This Twilight,” “The Great Destroyer,” and “My Violent Heart.” Furthermore there was something else about this album, was that it opened up the visual aspect even more than before. Since Trent has described Year Zero as a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t even exist, it’s not hard to let your imagination take you off on quite a little trip.
Year Zero is not The Downward Spiral or The Fragile, but it is one of the most artistic and well thought out releases that Nine Inch Nails have ever released. One other strange thing about this album, was that touring for this album was not very prevalent. The people at Interscope records really dropped the ball on handling the marketing and promotion for this album, hence why it never got the due it deserved. So give yourself some time and delve back into Year Zero and see for yourself what you might have missed.
By: Brian Lacy
Los Angeles has a rich history of bringing together musicians and forging a bond musically that many strive for. Hidden Amongst Us is one of the more recent stories. Brought together by their love of bands like Soundgarden, Black Sabbath & Alice In Chains and a common bond in their outlook on life and society, New Yorker’s Michael Grgas on guitar & Ken Colosa on bass, vocalist/SoCal native Evan Michael Mentone and Kentucky-bred drummer Joseph Yabao formed Hidden Amongst Us to rectify those issues.
HIdden Amongst Us has recently completed mixing & mastering 2 debut EP’s with Matt Hyde (Monster Magnet, ASG, Deftones, Slayer). Their first of the 2 EP’s Echo, is full of heavy melodic rock. The first track “Disappear” is full of chunky riffs mixed with a very tight solid rhythm section and powerful vocals make this a great lead in track. The rest of the EP is relentless in its groove and heaviness.
This group are on to something, and their use of melody really helps to tie it all together. Especially when lots of bands seemed to have lost that touch.
By: Brian Lacy
Continuing on where yesterday left off, here is a great cover by Faith No More doing Lionel Richie’s “Easy”
The great thing about Faith No More is that they always did what they wanted to do. Their music was never easily classified, it ranged from metal, jazz, funk, rock, psychedelia, new wave, and then some. The band with Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould, Mike “Puffy” Bordin Jim Martin and Chuck Mosley released one album Introduce Yourself featuring the song “We Care A Lot.” When Mike Patton took over for Chuck Mosley, everything fell in to place. Their success took hold when The Real Thing was released. Featuring the songs Epic, From Out Of Nowhere, Falling To Pieces and the great cover of War Pigs. That album plus play on MTV garnered them plenty of exposure. Their follow up album Angel Dust was a departure from their previous effort. Songs like Midlife Crisis, Caffeine, Land Of Sunshine and Jizzlobber to name a few were far more experimental. After touring that album Jim left and was replaced by Trey Spruance (Mike’s bandmate in the great band Mr. Bungle). They would go on and record the album King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime. The album stepped up the experiments venturing into the world of bossa nova, country, and gospel. Songs like Evidence, Digging The Grave. Their final opus Album Of The Year was released in 1997 and featured Jon Hudson on guitar. Ashes to Ashes, Last Cup Of Sorrow amongst others highlight this piece of work.
The individuals of the band are quite influential to many people in their own right. Mike Patton especially. His vocal style is undeniable and his ability to hit certain ranges is incredible. His numerous other projects including Fantomas, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle (R.I.P.), Peeping Tom, etc are all influential and quite awesome. Billy Gould’s bass tone is copied by many in the heavy rock community. Mike Bordin is a beast behind the kit. After the break up of Faith No More, he would go on to play for Ozzy. Roddy Bottum is a mater of the keys. His arrangements and effects really helped to make Faith No More substantial. Their guitarists Jim Martin , Trey Spruance and Jon Hudson all different helped to shape the sound of each album they played on and it shows.
Faith No More reunited for a bit between 2009 and 2012. Sadly they have said that is it for now. Hopefully they change their minds.
By: Brian Lacy
Stabbing Westward a very underrated yet awesome band from way back when. The songs still hold up. Here are a couple gems!
By: Brian Lacy
There are bands that go through a sort of identity crisis in their careers, some use this as fuel to create something special and make what they come up with an influential and highly regarded piece of work. Placebo did that in 2006 when they released Meds. Their previous albums were great. but they started to feel very stagnant. Stepping away from their use of samplers, computers and vintage synthesizers and returning to actually playing again seemed to reinvigorate Placebo. Lyrically the balance of drug and alcohol imagery really showed part of their personal dysfunction and vulnerability. Songs like “Meds,” “Infra-Red,” and “Post Blue” showcase this pleasantly. There is also another theme that rings throughout the album, danger. “Because, I Want You” and “Blind” could be construed as love songs all the while creating a short story about drugs and love. Another stand out from the album was their cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” which fits perfectly in the thematic structure that MEDS is. It is also a staple at their live shows.
Placebo has never been one to shy away from what they want to create and release. Brian Molko has a voice that is very distinct and believable. This album is one of the best to be released in the last 15 years and still hold up!
By: Brian Lacy
There are lots of bands out trying to do the whole stoner/sludge rock thing. Few can really do it justice. Enter Interstelar who can. Formed in 2010 in Los Angeles this group of guys have taken their influences of Kyuss, The Cult, Black Sabbath and mixed it with a bit of shoe gaze a la My Bloody Valentine. They released their debut EP in 2011 and are currently recording for a new release with Warren Riker (producer of Down 1-3). Musically they show how tight they are. The guitar tone is not so dirty that you can’t hear the notes, and the solos are intricate yet simple as to not take away from the rhythmic nature of the genre. The bass tracks blend perfectly with the drums. Vocally there are times as though Ian Astbury and Maynard got morphed into one. Their new track Hold It takes them up a notch and shows their craft as songwriters and has a bit more melody. Interstelar are one band in the genre that should not go unnoticed!
By: Brian Lacy
I’m not a fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s at all but this version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is fantastic. The arrangement from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the visuals from the opening sequence of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo make this great.
In this new feature we go on a journey to other genres and explore what they have to offer. Today’s offering is Ulver. They formed in Norway in the early 90’s. Their sound tends to be classified as Folk Black Metal. They blend different genres such as rock, folk, metal, symphonic, classical, and electronic to create their unique sound. Their albums have all been different from their others. They are one of the few that evolution has never held them back. Bergtatt, the debut album has been hailed as not the heaviest or most aggressive black metal.What makes the album stand out from all, is its use of unique atmosphere to create something that is eerie and oddly tranquil. Another one of their albums that is quintessential to their catalog is Blood Inside. On this album, along with their folk, black metal, symphonic sound, they began to incorporate jazz elements. Thus allowing the band to have awkward yet enriching time signatures.
While Ulver isn’t for everyone, they truly are excellent songwriters. One can always appreciate a well written and arranged song. If you’ve ever wanted to venture to the darker side, Ulver is a great place to start.
From Bergtatt: Troldskog Faren Vild
From Blood Inside: It Is Not Sound
By: Brian Lacy
In late 2013 A.F.I. released their album Burials which continues their evolution into the the more goth-pop side of things. Granted they will never be what they once were, Burials takes the best parts of Sing The Sorrow and mixes it with The Art Of Drowning style riffs. Their new album has stuck with me since I bought it and is far better than their previous 2 releases. Check out 2 tracks on this 2 For Tuesday!
The Face Beneath The Waves: