Album Review

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:

 

Album Review: Korn- The Nothing

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13 albums in and 25 years since the beginning, is it still possible to be relevant? Well, In Korn’s case, yes, yes it is. For many years and albums, Korn has tried new things and the results were very hit or miss. Then, Brian “Head” Welch returned to the fold and things starting getting back on the right track. The bands previous album, The Serenity Of Suffering was surely a step in the right direction in terms of sound and getting back to what they do best. Now, on their new album The Nothing, Korn has really stepped up and made their best album since Untouchables. This new one has bits of Untouchables, Issues and their debut all wrapped into one. The end result is something that the band can look back on and be very proud of what they created.

The over arching theme of The Nothing is obviously the loss of Jonathan Davis’s wife and how he’s dealt with it. Never one to shy away from his pain, this album has some of the most vulnerable performances from JD in a very very long time. Opening the album is “The End Begins” which features bag pipes, rumbling percussion, and fuzzy bass along with JD putting himself deeply into this and uncontrollably sobbing as he asks “Why did you leave?” From that point, the album then begins to take shape as “Cold” hits with an impact that harks back to the way Issues started. “You’ll Never Find Me” is part 2 of the 1, 2 punch of how the album starts. The riffs and rhythms that accompany these two songs are some of the best of Korn’s career. One of my favorite songs on the album “Idiosyncrasy” is one hell of a song. The Pantera-esque riff along with melodic chorus makes this song one of the true standouts on the album. This album has a bit of everything for Korn fans. It hits the heavy, melodic, and experimental aspects that have made up the bands career. Such songs like “The Darkness Is Revealing,” “Finally Free,” The Ringmaster,” Gravity Of Discomfort,” and “H@rd3r” are great examples of that and showcase the different vocal approaches of Jonathan Davis as well as the band at a very creative turn that hark back to the origins of the band while adding a more modern approach. In true Korn fashion, these few songs have a life of their own but stay true to desperation and realism that the album carries. “Can You Hear Me” has a very cool Queen Of The Damned vibe along with a bit of a Follow The Leader melodic tinge. “This Loss” is one of my other favorite songs on the album. The band really honed in on the melodic aspects they’ve become known for. The interludes that appear also give the album a bit of a schizophrenic aspect but, help to tie in the thoughts being conveyed.

The Nothing stands up quite high in the bands catalog. There are some really classic Korn elements on these songs, along with memorable hooks and catchy choruses. The dueling guitars that became signature to Korn are extremely prevalent on this album and Munky and Head really shine. Fieldy’s bass hits the way it used to along with his percussive style bass that balances the guitars and drums. Ray Luzier finally sounds like he fits on a Korn record. His groove on this record is reminiscent of what David did on the older albums but, it’s done in a way that doesn’t sound rehashed and it stays true to the beast of a drummer that Ray is. Jonathan Davis’s vocals and melodies on this album are some of the best since Issues and Untouchables. Obviously the pain and grief of loss is ever noticeable but, they catharsis through the performances really makes the whole thing shine.

I’m sure many people have given up on Korn over the years. I know there was a point that I just didn’t care but, on the last album and on this one, Korn has recaptured what they do best without it coming across as forced. Working with Nick Raskulinecz has been a blessing for the band. He’s one of the few producers out there today that really understands the essence of what bands are and how to capture that magic again. The Nothing is an album that will draw older fans back into the fold while giving those skeptical ones something to sink their teeth into. Are there moments that are hit and miss, sure, but that doesn’t take away from how genuine and pure this album is.

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Korn- The Nothing:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Tool- Fear Inoculum

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Tool’s new album is one of the most anticipated albums ever. The drama and hype surrounding this album have been astounding. Even the rumors about this album have given it all sorts of life before anyone even heard a single note. Finally, after 13 years of waiting, the long anticipated album has arrived. The big question though is, was it worth the wait? Well, in the next few minutes of you reading this, you will get my opinion on that.

I still remember hearing Tool for the first time and thinking this was really cool. The first song I ever heard was “Sober” and the video was pretty stimulating to watch. Undertow was obtained a few days later and after that I was hooked. When Aenima was released that changed everything. That album is a masterpiece straight up. Then 5 years after that, Lateralus was unleashed on the world and that left one hell of a lasting impression on everyone. 10,000 Days though, was a record though that took a long long long time to really get into but, one it finally clicked, it made sense. Especially the song “Right In Two.”

Now here we are, thirteen years removed from 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum has finally arrived. The thing is though, was 13 years too long? Yes, yes it was. Allow me to further explain. When a band takes this long to release an album, one would expect the record to be truly masterful, evolved and takes things to another level. Each song on Fear Inoculum feels as though it was obsessed over, torn down and rebuilt to try and create a substantial song but, that amount of detail and agonizing over has provided a bloated sense that these songs are more than just a glorified wank fest.  Instead, what was released was a self indulgent piece of art that is so wrapped up in its own ego that it’s truly hard to really get to the nitty gritty of what is there. It’s not that the album isn’t good, it is, it’s just that this album is drab and feels uninspired. I’m all for long songs. I love listening to an album that really takes you on a journey. This album however, only takes me on a journey to fall asleep.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brilliance on this album. The odd time signatures are aplenty and the Tool sound is ever prevalent. The song everyone seems to be so jazzed about is “7empest.” That song if you were to really cut the fat out of it has the potential to be one of the most legendary Tool songs in their catalog. That song really has some defining moments for the record.  Fear Inoculum is definitely an album that, with the right amount of patience and time, one can come to really enjoy. This is not a casual listen type of album. As with every Tool album, there is a depth to it that takes time to unravel and decipher. This album not only has those elements but there also seems to be another level that they went to that isn’t quite easy to digest. Among the other gripes I have with the album is Maynard’s vocals. It’s as though his vocals were just placed in spots without the right amount of attention needed to truly highlight the singer. All the time spent working on the actual music and not having Maynard in the room really takes away from what this album could have been. Danny Carey is truly a drum champion but, even his parts on this album just like guitarist Adam Jones, tends to go on and one a bit too long and tend to drone on with no end point. That’s not to say they aren’t good at what they do, they just needed to reign it in a bit more and be more concise about the length of parts. My other issue is not having enough moments for Justin Chancellor to shine. On the previous couple albums, Justin had been at the forefront of many of the songs but, on this one he too seems to have taken a back seat and because of that, the album loses a bit of the aura it should have with Justin’s bass tone and playing. The production on the album though is stellar. Sonically it does sound good and it’s mixed very well.

As I mentioned above, it’s not that this album isn’t good, it is but, it’s just rather drab and boring. I know there are a ton of you out there that think this is the be all end all of albums in 2019 but, it’s really just hype. After 13 years, this is the best that they could do? Maynard was even quoted in a recent interview that the album could have been released 8 years ago. I will continue to go back to this album and see if my mind changes about it. I’ve listened quite a few times and even with each listen, I still find myself wanting to reach for a pillow and just drift off to sleep. One other thing, I do find it quite interesting that both the Tool and A Perfect Circle albums have been quite underwhelming. Is it possible that after all this time both bands have lost the fire that once drove them?

Overall Rating: B-

 
Tool- Fear Inoculum:

 

Album Review: Baroness- Gold & Gray

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Ever since they released their Red album, Baroness have been on one hell of a journey. One that would take the band to different highs and lows both musically and personally. Through all that though, Baroness has always persevered and used all of that to create albums (yes I said albums) that encapsulate everything into a beautiful piece of work. Now in 2019, with the release of Gold and Grey, Baroness have rediscovered parts of themselves with an album that is truly a work of art from start to finish. This album is one of the best of 2019 without a doubt.

The moment the album begins with “Front Toward Enemy” there is a feeling that overtakes the listener with a sense of “here we go.” There’s a section in the song lyrically that I like to think of as foreshadowing “We’re headed for disaster, But I won’t close my eyes until it’s over, So carry on.” To me that is such a powerful statement and one that thematically resonates throughout the entire album. As the album continues on, the songs have this wonderful ebb and flow that really pulls you in and crawls under your skin in such a way that you find a sense of comfort in the music, words, and melodies. Songs like “I’m Already Gone,” “Seasons,” “Tourniquet,” “Throw Me An Anchor,” “I’d Do Anything,” “Emmett- Radiating Light,” “Cold-Blooded Angels,” “Broken Halo,” “Borderlines,” and “Pale Sun” are all stunning on their own merit but, as a whole they really deliver something spectacular.

 
The addition of guitarist/vocalist Gina Gleason has given Baroness the touch they’ve always needed. Gina’s guitar playing is outstanding and she and singer/guitarist John Dyer Baizley play off each other in wondrous fashion but, her vocal ability is what really takes this album and it’s songs to anther level. The delicate textures on this album courtesy of the harmonizing vocals makes Gold & Grey stand out even more in the bands catalog. Drummer Sebastian Thomson and bassist Nick Jost, provide this album with a rhythm that is thunderous and pummeling but, in a way that is delicate and dense. The band has always been a stellar band but, this lineup is truly the essence of what Baroness is. There’s only one thing about this album that is off and that’s the mix. It’s pushed a bit too far into the red making for a distorted fuzz sound that at times, overtakes the music and the textures. That’s really the one fault this album has. Other than that, what a great album.

Gold & Grey is an album that with out a doubt stands out not just in Baroness’s catalog but, also in today’s musical climate. The creative elements that brought these songs together shine ever so bright. If you would have told me when I first heard Baroness, that one day they’d release an album like this, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, here we are and they have made a remarkable piece of work, one that will be a pinnacle for bands to follow and be inspired by.

 

Overall Rating= A

 

Baroness- Gold & Grey:

 

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Cave In- Final Transmission

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Since the start of their career, Cave In have always been the type of band to delve deep into themselves and deliver albums that compliment those feelings and emotions. So, it’s no surprise that on their new (and maybe final) album, Final Transmission, that all the grief and thoughts the surviving members of the band have are front and center.
Final Transmission is an album that is bittesweet all the while is pure and true to what they’ve always done.

Beginning with the title track “Final Transmission,” you automatcally feel the spirit of the late Caleb Scofield. The song is actually a voicemail left by Caleb following a writing/demo session, which features Scofield playing an acoustic guitar and singing a melody over it. From there the album moves to “All Illusion”  a song that features lyrics written by Scofield that was taken from a journal that was found after his death. This is  where the album takes a turn for the sound they all created on the highly acclaimed (and my favorite) album Jupiter. The guitar work by Adam McGrath is superb. He’s use of delay and heavy guitars is masterful. Mix that with singer/guitarist Steve Brodsky’s soaring vocals, and the ferocious rhythm section of drummer JR Conners and Caleb Scofield, and you have the perfect Cave In song. The song “Shake My Blood,” is one that will have you reaching for the box of tissues, as you think about the grief that wafted over each member of this band. Other stellar songs on this album include “Winter Window,” “Strange Reflection,” “Night Crawler” “Lanterna,” and the final track “Led To The Wolves” which is quite a poignant ending to a loving tribute to their fallen brother and friend.

 

Final Transmission was unintended to be released in its form, the band obviously was working on making a complete and full album before the passing of Caleb. There is a slight feeling of this being more of a collection of songs rather than an “album” but, the more you listen, the more it all starts to really gel. One thing that is lacking is the absence of Caleb’s screams which helped to give Cave In more of an aggressive edge as found on Perfect Pitch Black and White Silence. Still, It’s a collection of tracks that see a band who has been gone way too long deliver the goods and really make sure that this is something that Caleb would be proud of.
Overall Rating: A-

 

Cave In- Final Transmission:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy