Album Review

Album Review: Lamb Of God- Lamb Of God

Lamb Of God - Official Site

Lamb Of God have been at this for over two decades now and have solidified their place in the heavy music community. Throughout their time, they’ve released two albums that have become classics in the metal world (As The Palaces Burn and Ashes Of The Wake). Now, in 2020, Lamb Of God have released a new album with a renewed sense of energy that hasn’t been heard from them in a long while. That’s not to say that this sounds like a different band, it’s still Lamb through and through. Longtime drummer Chris Adler is no longer in the fold and has been replaced with the very accomplished Art Cruz (formerly of Winds Of Plague and Prong).

This album definitely seems to pick up where their previous one, VII Sturm Und Drang left off. There’s plenty of intricate parts, thrashy elements and metal to go around as well as a new groove that seems to have energized all the members to pick it up a bit more. Album opener “Memento Mori” has some very cool vibes that show that this is more than just a run of the mill song. The clean vocals from Randy Blythe actually fit in really well on this track. “Checkmate” lyrically is hard charging but, musically it does sound a bit familiar. “Gears” offers a bit more of that new groove I mentioned. I have a feeling this song live would be crowd favorite. My favorite song on the new album is “Reality Bath.” This one shows off a lot of diversity in what this band can do. The arrangement on this song along with “that groove” makes this one a stand out. “New Colossal Hate” is straight up Lamb Of God. This song needs to be added to their set list. It definitely has a bit of an Ashes vibe to it as well. “Resurrection Man” is a pretty fun song in that it has a bit of a Pantera-ish vibe mixed with a bit a sort of prog element too. This would be an interesting one to hear live. “Poison Dream” features Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. This song is another very Lamb sounding song. Jamey’s vocals do tend to get lost in the shuffle on this track. It would have been cooler if there was a badass breakdown and he was unleashed. “Routes” is a very introspective song lyrically about Randy’s time spent protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Testament’s Chuck Billy guests on this track in a passionate way. “Bloodshot Eyes” is a song that musically could have fit very easily on guitarist Mark Morton’s solo album. The inclusion of mostly clean vocals on this one is sure to separate some fans but, it’s definitely a welcome change. “Off The Hook” closes out the album and this one is pretty hard charging.

This album is Lamb Of God doing what they do. It’s not reinventing the wheel. It does have a bit of a different vibe since Chris Adler is no longer involved but, it was needed change. Art Cruz, like I mentioned before, has brought a new energy and groove to the band. That groove he learned from playing in Prong, definitely shows through. Mark Morton and Willie Adler have really become quite the guitar duo over the years and on this album it really comes to light a bit more. John Campbell is a seriously underrated bass player. His style along with Art’s are super in sync and it allows for the right amount of breath to be let out on these songs. Randy Blythe’s vocals have really taken shape in interesting ways. He’s still ferocious and gritty but, being able to expand upon the dynamics of the songs with clean parts give these songs something more than just a run of the mill vibe. Overall, this album is solid and a great place to start anew. I can definitely see a few of these songs becoming live staples for a good amount of time. Also, I can really see Art Cruz finding his own place in this band and helping to push the boundaries of what this band can do.

Rating: 8/10

Lamb Of God- Lamb Of God:

 

 

 

 

Album Review: O’Brother- You and I

Seeing as we are living in uncertain times and the world is on the verge of burning, there is a need for a sense of hope and comfort. Music has always had the ability to evoke feelings that can “save the world.” I truly believe that statement. More often than not, an album is released that strikes a chord with people that gives them just that feeling. Very recently, O’Brother released their new album You and I and it is truly a remarkable album. They have always been a band to evolve and bring something new to the table with each release and on this one, they most certainly have. You and I is a very deep album chock full of all the things you’ve grown to love about this band and then some. The elements of Rock, Post Hardcore, Shoegaze, Trip-Hop, Post Rock are all there but, this time, they brought a more etherial sense to their writing. It’s a very haunting and eerie album but not in the dark and dreary sense. Instead there is a hope to these songs that is uplifting and gets under your skin in a tingling way.

The way the album flows from the moment it opens to the closing song is surreal. It’s a true journey of an album. The way albums should be. They’ve always had a knack for that but, on this one they have truly mastered it. Most of the time when I review an album, I tend to go track by track or name a few stand out songs but, on this one, I can’t do that. If I were to do so, I’d be taking away from the feeling one would get listening to this album. I would feel like I cheated you out of how great this album is. So please, take the time to listen to this and let it all soak in.

O’Brother is a band that since their debut has left me in a sort of awe. I remember seeing them open for Thrice many years ago and their show that night left a mark in my mind. Fast forward a few years to when they were the direct support for The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final tour, as well as releasing one of my favorite albums, Endless Light, it was solidified that this band was beyond something special. I have to say too that it’s criminal that O’Brother isn’t a huge band. By all accounts they should be. The artistry, songs, musicianship, live show, etc is all there. I highly recommend you taking some extra time and listen to all their albums. You’ll definitely understand why I think they are great.

Overall Rating: A

O’Brother- You and I:

Album Review: Elder- Omens

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As a fan of music, the first thing I do when I get an album is put it on and just let it take me where it’s supposed to go. Obviously, it takes more than one listen to fully grasp everything that is in there but, when it finally reaches that apex, the moment is what keeps me coming back. Recently, the new Elder album was dropped off in my inbox and I was very intrigued to delve into this one. I’ve heard a few songs of theirs over the years and have dug what they’ve been doing. So before I fully immersed myself into their new album, I had to go back and see where it all started. Well, I’m glad I did. The progression this band has shown from album one till their new one, Omens, is astounding. Moving across the many sub-genres of rock and metal, Elder has established themselves as one of the most epic bands out there and on Omens, they have fully cemented themselves as one of the best to do it in this day and age.

The more I listen to this album, the more I pick up on different things to enjoy about it. Rather than rely on a classic sludgey/stoner mentality, they went off in this really cool Zeppelin meets Deep Purple territory that is parts psychedelic, experimental and full of crisp tones that let your mind wander. There’s also some really cool prog rock moments in these songs that help to build on what I just mentioned without it becoming to grandiose or Toolish for the sake of just wanking off. The five songs on Omens, are crafted without a doubt to bring about new textures and surprise longtime fans of the new directions they are going. Even if this is the first album you’ve ever heard from Elder, you will instantly be drawn into the lush soundscapes and trippy structures. Omens is the type of album that this band was meant to make. When you look back on where they began till now, it’s obvious that this was meant to be and in a total good way. I was trying to think of another band that had a similar trajectory and I came up with a couple, Mastodon, Baroness and Pallbearer. Each of those bands started as this big riff magnet but over time, really took the time to enhance their sound and delve deeper within to make something that really spoke volumes. Elder is now in that company.

Omens is an album that deserves not only your time and patience but, it’s also one that will, for an hour, let your mind escape and wander to many different places. This is what music is all about. That feeling of ease and letting go, even if it’s just for a few moments, it will most definitely give you what you need. The talent is there, the songs are here and the sound is just right to capture the essence of the vibe that Elder is transmitting. So, do yourself a favor and dig into Omens and go on the ride.

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Elder- Omens:

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Pearl Jam- Gigaton

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Pearl Jam since the turn of the century, has long had an interesting history when it comes to releasing new music. Their first three albums are absolute classics and are highly regarded. Then a switch happened after album number three, and things started to change. There were many different catalysts in that change and some of the material from that point on was disregarded at the time but, later became recognized for taking a chance and actually were very solid albums (No Code and Yield), while some fell flat and left people wondering what else they had in the tank (Binural and Riot Act). There were flashes though of what Pearl Jam was known for and their self titled album (or the Avacado album as many know it as) saw the band recapture a bit of what made them such a force to begin with. And then came Backspacer and Lightning Bolt. Both of which have good songs on them but as a whole, they really aren’t all that great. Which brings us to their new material and 11th studio album, Gigaton.

Gigaton is, as you’d expect Pearl Jam doing what they do. It’s got songs for everyone of their fans but, it doesn’t feel cohesive. It’s as though it was pieced together from various sessions the band has had over the course of a few years. The experimentation is welcoming but, the way it’s all arranged, doesn’t fit and leaves the listener in a bit confusion as to where this album is going. The record starts off with “Who Ever Said,” a very classic PJ rock track. This is a song that could very well have easily been heard on say VS and Vitology or even Yield. I would bet money that this song live will be one hell of a track. “Superblood Wolfmoon” is another “classic-ish” sounding PJ song but gets more into where they were experimenting. The guitar solo in the bridge section by Mike McCready is absolutely stunning though. That guy is an absolute gem and one of the most underrated guitarists. Again, this song live will go over quite well. “Dance Of The Clairvoyants” is one of the most daring songs the band has ever put out. At first it’s a bit strange but, the more you listen, the better it gets. It’s definitely out there and has a totally different vibe, venturing into almost Brian Eno territory. Lyrically, this is one hell of a song. “Quick Escape” is another solid rock tune that will again make it seem like it’s 1994 all over again. From this point though on the album is where things begin to shift and feel out of place. “Alright” provides this really interesting vibe with some introspective lyrics and a song that is very well written. “Seven O’Clock” is a very poignant song as well and could easily be mistaken for a Eddie Vedder solo song. “Never Destination” is another track that if played live, will go over extremely well. It’s got the potential to be a fan favorite for many years to come. “Take The Long Way” is a track with great guitar work and the rumbling bass gives this song a distinct vibe that feels like it could have been found on their self titled album. “Buckle Up” is a great lyrically driven song but, it’s one of the most out of place songs in terms of album sequencing. “Comes Then Goes” is a great song in terms of songwriting and arrangement abilities. It’s got this really cool “folky” sense to it with great melody. “Retrograde” is another well written song that just feels like it was placed in this spot with no proper introduction from one song to another. “River Cross” closes out the album with a deep seeded message and a bit of reassurance.

All in all, Gigaton is a solid album full of really strong songs but, it doesn’t have the cohesive feel to really make it feel whole. There is an huge sense of optimism on this album that is sure to make the listener think and when they listen again, pull other things out of it. That is something that all Pearl Jam albums have in common. They all make you get out of your comfort zone whether you like it or not. After multiple listens and then going back through the band’s catalog, I’ve come to a few conclusions about the shift that changed Pearl Jam. For one, the band is and for many many years has become Eddie Vedders. Stone Gossard was such an integral force in making Ten and VS so great but, his contributions seem to have been pushed to the side for many years. Also the drums. This is not a knock on Matt Cameron as a player but, he really just doesn’t quite fit the needs of Pearl Jam. When you go back to the albums that Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons played on, you can really feel the drums in a way that created a true pulse and that’s been lacking for many years.  Matt Cameron plays with a sort of drag or low pulse that can’t keep up with the way things probably should sound. Another thing that Gigaton suffers from is its mix. It’s not mixed well at all. Brendan O’Brien, the man behind the boards for many of Pearl Jam’s albums, knew how to really make each instrument shine, even if the song was meh. Granted this whole album is a bit of an experiment, the final result of the mixes makes it feel a bit unfinished. In spite of all those things I just mentioned, Gigaton, does provide the rock music world a bit of something new and seemingly fresh from a band that for 30 years, has been consistently pushing themselves to deliver something more than just the same run of the mill sort of material many would just cave in to. With the right amount of time, Gigaton will settle in nicely to the bands catalog and take its own shape.

Overall Rating: B-/C+

 

Pearl Jam- Gigaton:

 

Band Of The Week: Stabbing Westward

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Yes, you read that right. Stabbing Westward is back and they are bringing the goods with them. Stabbing Westward originally reunited back in 2015 while singer Chris Hall was on tour with his other band at the time The Dreaming. What was originally conceived as a one off expanded once they were asked to be a part of the Cold Waves festival back in 2016. After some time away, in late 2018, Stabbing Westward was awoken again, as the band embarked on a tour to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their very excellent album, Darkest Days. Over the course of time, the band started to play more shows and began writing new material. The band now, is made up of original members Chris Hall (vocals/guitar) and Walter Flakus (keyboards, programming), along with (former?) Deadsy and The Dreaming member Carlton Bost and Bobby Amaro. Now, in 2020, that new music has arrived in the form of the Dead and Gone EP, which features 3 new songs as well as two remixes. The three new songs on the EP, “Dead and Gone,” “Cold,” and “Crawl” seemingly pick up where Darkest Days left off with a little bit of a modern tinge. Chris Hall hasn’t lost a step vocally and sounds just as good as he did back in the bands heyday. This EP is a pretty solid reminder why Stabbing Westward were all over the radio back in the 90’s. It leaves you wanting a full length album for sure, as this wets your appetite. The song “Cold” has some really cool textures and elements that gives off a different flair for pop, industrial and even world music (Middle Eastern to be specific). “Crawl” is a very cinematic song, that while simple in its structure, it’s very catchy and mixed with Hall’s vocals and delivery, makes for a very captivating song. Cheers to Stabbing Westward being back and out on the road!

Stabbing Westward- Dead and Gone EP:

 

Dead and Gone:

 

 

Crawl:

 

 

 

By: Brian Lacy

Solo Album Spotlight: William DuVall- One Alone

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For more than a decade now, people have been given the opportunity to hear William DuVall’s voice as he fronts Alice In Chains. He has truly done an exceptional job and his voice has breathed new life not just into the band but the legendary songs as well. William is not Layne but, that’s what makes his contributions to Alice so special. He brings with him a soul and spirit that helps to propel and carry on the legacy of one of the best bands ever. On the songs that he’s brought into the band and sang lead on, you can really tell why he was chosen to front the band. Plus the way he sings the older material, there are times when you are hearing it live, and you get chills from the way William sings.

Prior to joining Alice, William fronted and played guitar with the band Comes With The Fall. I had the opportunity many years ago to see a show of theirs and even then, I knew that guy was destined for something pretty remarkable. Late last year (2019), William released his debut solo album, One Alone. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and microphone, William shines and delivers one hell of a record. His vocal delivery on this album is superb as well as haunting and as I mentioned above, full of soul. Each of the 11 songs on One Alone is crafted so well, that you can tell that his ability as a songwriter is underused in Alice In Chains. One Alone is the type of album too that is a visceral listening experience. This album carries a lot of weight with songs like “Till The Light Guides Me Home,” The Veil Of All My Fears,” “Strung Out On A Dream,” “Still Got A Hold On My Heart,” “So Cruel,” and “Chains Around My Heart.” Albums like this don’t come out that often.

 

This is one of the best solo albums I’ve heard in a long time. There is something really special about this one. To be able to be so vulnerable and open like this is truly remarkable. The voice and words alone, will make you listen again and again. William is a talented guy who was the right choice for the Alice gig, without a doubt, and on this album, he really solidifies his place among the best voices in rock music.

 

William Duvall- One Alone:

Band Of The Week: Caspian

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Over the last few years, there has been a surge of instrumental bands that have changed the landscape of what you can do without vocals. Certain bands have come to the forefront of that and have released seminal albums that have a lasting impact. Caspian, is one of those bands. Through their career, they’ve released a wide spectrum of albums that have reached the heights of cinematic and grandiose rock with an accompaniment of thunderous rhythms and riffs galore that would can shatter glass. It’s been 5 years since their last album, the very highly regarded, Dust and Disquiet. Now, Caspian have unleashed one hell of an epic album with On Circles that, is one of the most captivating of their career. There’s an intimacy on this album that comes out more and more as you listen, while at the same time, there’s an immediacy to it that drives you to tune in closer and closer. On Circles, is Caspian at a creative height and pushing themselves to step out of their comfort zone even more, for example, on closing song “Circles On Circles,” guitarist Phillip Jamieson adds vocals to this very introspective song.

Hands down, Caspian have released the first great album of 2020. This album is definitely going to be talked about through the whole year, as it should be. It covers a wide range of elements the band has become known for and touches on new ground that doesn’t feel out of reach for their capabilities. Caspian are back and ready to set sail on one hell of a journey with this album.

 

Caspian- On Circles:

Album Review: Seizures- Reverie of the Revolving Diamond

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There are bands that come around every so often that are truly inspiring and remarkable. More often than not, these bands never get the due they deserve because of the genre they are a part of as well as not playing by the generic norm of the industry. And that’s what makes heavy music truly great. There are no rules to abide by and there are no compromises when it comes to making the type of music and albums these bands want to make. There’s a band from Orange County, CA, that have been carving their own path for some time and with the release of their new album, they have cemented themselves as torchbearers for a genre and have set a standard for what’s to come from this style of music.

Reverie of the Revolving Diamond by Seizures, is an album that is truly outstanding and genre defining. The ability this band has to mix metal, jazz, punk, atmospheric sounds as well as deep and poetic lyrics is something that should not be overlooked by anyone. The instant that the first song “Mazarine” begins, you are immediately drawn into the soundscapes and almost psychedelic undertones. “The Cycles Unnumbered” unleashes a fury of off time playful chaos and delicate jazz scales directly into the rush of blood to your head of “In A Valley Of Twilit Meres.” “Toxophola” is one of the more experimental songs on the album but still maintains the ferociousness that resonates through the entire album. This song also features Keith Barney (of Eighteen Visions/ex Throwdown). “The Ponds You Dried Yet Still You Stare” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It has everything I love about this band all wrapped in one song. Listen and you’ll hear why. “Atollian” continues to expand upon the atmospheric undertones of the album and keeps it tasty as a sweet transition right into the decimating “Of Indigo and Seven Crows.” “Severnaya” provides a really cool interesting vibe as it serves as an entry into “Bedlam Blues” which is the most straight forward song on the album but not in the way that defers from the spastic nature of the album. “On Saturine Shores” is another moving interlude of sorts. These little atmospheric jazz breaks in between songs give the album and listener a breath in between sonic assaults. Closing out the album is “Eru” and this song is epic and like “The Ponds…” this too has a bit of everything that Seizures has to offer and then some.

Seizures have released an album that stands up with the best albums as their contemporaries and the ones that inspired and influenced them.  They have a sound and style that is ferocious and brutal yet delicate and oddly soothing. Reverie of the Revolving Diamond is an album for today as much as Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan was 20 years ago. The band live is a whole other beast as well. I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing them once but, they truly left a mark on me and I’ve been anticipating this album since I saw Seizures. Do yourself a favor and take a chance on something that might (well it probably is) out of your comfort zone and discover what this band has to offer. This album is definitely in my top ten of the year as well.

Seizures- Reverie of the Revolving Diamond:

 

By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not.

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In 2017, Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. That album was quite exquisite and it brought life back into Liam along with his legendary voice. Now, here we are a couple years later and Liam has released a new album Why Me? Why Not. This record picks up where the debut left off but, on this one, it gets a bit deeper and more expressive. There’s a nice layer of nostalgia to the album but, it doesn’t rely on it to make it’s point. Instead it’s an album that covers many things from being introspective to what the future holds. The songs and especially Liam’s vocals really draw you in just as the classic Oasis albums did.

The album starts off with a great rock song in “Shockwave.” It’s a very in your face track that will sure be a stellar live song. It’s also got a lot of attitude to it that propels the album as well. “One Of Us” is very blatantly about his brother Noel. It’s also one of the most profound songs Liam has ever sung. There’s a particularly great dig at Noel in the song when Liam sings “You said we’d live forever/Who do you think you’re kiddin’?” a nod to the Definitely Maybe track. That part is so striking. Even the video is stunning. “Once” is another very powerful song that will get all your feelings going as you listen. It’s a very retrospective song that no doubt will have people wanting to reach for their Oasis albums. “Now That I Found You” is a very heartfelt song to his daughter that is full of great melodies. “Halo” is a really solid song that also helps to bring the album back up to a more up tempo beat. “Why Me? Why Not” is a very Liam does John Lennon-esque song. It’s a very sincere and humbling track. One that should be celebrated as a rebirth of sorts for Liam. “Be Still” (which is my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is an edgy rock song that, if played live will be huge. It’s also a soaring song with lyrics and melodies that really help to make this a stand out. “Alright Now” is another song that is pretty deep and chock full of maturity that a young Liam would probably snicker at. “Meadow” is a bit of a solemn song with a sense of optimism and hope to it. The organ and guitars have this cool swell to them which helps to make this song have a cool swing to it that makes it sort of psychedelic. “The River” is another huge song on the album. It’s got a bit of an anthemic feel to it to go along with a later 60’s vibe. This is another one that live will be stellar. Closing the album out is “Gone.” This song feels like it takes on a message of what the whole album is about. There is still a bit of attitude and swagger to it while at the same time it’s almost like a coming to terms with life type of song.

Why Me? Why Not is one hell of an album. It’s honest, pure and humbling. Liam has even said he’s not much of a songwriter so, with the help of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, they have helped to make sure Liam’s words and voice are put on a pedestal and celebrated as each song plays. This isn’t Oasis by any means but, these songs have the ability to stand up with a slew of the classic songs from that era. There is obviously a throwback of sorts to Oasis and the past but, this album doesn’t live there. It’s modern and feels inspired while keeping true to who Liam is not just as a person but as a singer, lyricist, and the rock star that he is. Why Me? Why Not is the perfect name for this album. It’s everything you’d want to hear from Liam and then some. He’s still got the charm and rasp that made him a star to begin with only now, he’s more mature and can see the error of his way. As You Were and Why Me? Why Not can stand up against anything Liam has done in his career and look back on with delight. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album, you won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A

Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Cold- The Things We Can’t Stop

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After 8 years away, Cold have returned. Armed with a new album, The Thing We Can’t Stop, and a new lineup, Cold seem like they are ready to get back to the rock. The new look and sound of Cold continues the bands honest approach to very emotionally driven songs. Scooter Ward, the bands lone original member, meticulously spent time writing these songs to make sure they retained the signature style that makes Cold who they are.

The album starts off with an atmospheric intro of spoken word as it then flows into anthemic “Shine.” I’ll admit when I first heard this song, I thought it was something more fitting for Scooter’s solo project The Killer and The Star but, the more I’ve listened, it really fits in the spectrum of what Cold is. “Snowblind” is one of my favorite songs on the album. This mid tempo jam is dark yet hopeful with gentle melodies that make this song a stellar and stand out track. “The Devil We Know” has bits of classic Cold (a la their first album). This is one song that I can tell when it’s played live will be a fan favorite for sure. “Better Human” is an interesting song. It’s got a very positive message as it fits for today’s world we live in. “Without You” is one hell of a song. The heavy guitar and bass parts along with the groove, have bits of 13 Ways To Bleed in it. As of now, this is my favorite song on the album. As the album continues, it has this sway to it that takes you on a ride of emotions, like “Quiet Now,” “The One That Got Away,” and “Systems Fail” do. “Beautiful Life” and “We All Love” wrap up the album. Both of these songs are deeply heartfelt and give off a sense of hope wrapped in a warm blanket of feelings. Also on the album is a cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run.” The version on this album stays true to the original but, it’s Ward’s voice that pulls it in a different direction.

The Things We Can’t Stop isn’t a part 2 of any of the bands other albums. The closest this one remotely comes close to is A Different Kind Of Pain in the way the emotions play out. This album is a very mature look inside Scooter Ward and his life and pain. As a longtime fan of the band, at first listen you sort of feel like something is missing but, the more you listen and take it all in, the more you start to really resonate with the songs and the mood it puts you in. That’s one thing that Cold has always done well, especially on their first two albums. The new members have given Cold a bit of a different sound but, it doesn’t stray too far from what makes this band who they are.  I do wish that the production on the album was a bit more raw and more in the way that the vocals sounded on their debut and 13 Ways. Had it been like that, I think this album would have been a bit more impact. As I mentioned earlier, this record feels a little out of place in the bands catalog but, in its nature and after a few listens, it’s Cold through and through. No matter what, I and a lot of people are very ecstatic that Cold are back. I very much look forward to seeing the band live again and hearing these songs live. I have a feeling that, these songs live will take on a whole new life.

 

Overall Rating: B

 

Cold- The Things We Can’t Stop: