Album Review

Album Review: Billy Howerdel- What Normal Was

When the news first broke that Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle/Ashes Divide was going to put out a solo album under his name, I became very intrigued. While reading about the making of the album, there was a quote of Billy’s that really stood out to me, “”This is me stepping back into my early teen self and making the record I would’ve made if I had the means and the knowledge when I first picked up a guitar — just in 2022.” I couldn’t love that statement more. I love that he went back to the well of what first really got his passion of music going and created an album that pays homage to those musical influences and inspirations but this record is one that can stand on it’s own during a resurgence of that sound.

What Normal Was is ten songs of goth tinged, dark pop, with melancholic tendencies and a sense of ambience that is both haunting and beautiful. Digging into his love for bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode and Siouxie and the Banshee’s, you can hear those bands in certain moments wheteher it’s a synth, vocal melody, bass line, guitar part or even a drum beat. But this isn’t a “copy” of those bands. Instead this is Billy making the album that he grew up wanting to make. I have a strange thing about wanting to go track by track as I feel like it gives the listener a preconceived notion but I do want to highlight a couple tracks. Opener “Selfish Heart” is one hell of a track to kick off the record. The vocal delivery on this song is superb. As the album continues tracks like “Free and Weightless,” “Ani,” “Beautiful Mistake,” “Poison Flowers,” and “Bring Honor Back Home” have all been standouts each time I listen. Closing song “Stars” is quite the contemplative track and one that gives the album an open ending to continue on this path at a later date.


What Normal Was is the type of album in 2022 that is not only needed but it’s a teaching tool for all these younger bands and “kids” who don’t quite understand how to make this type of music. The homage portion of the album and the desire to create something that you’ve always dreamed of makes this album work. It’s not just Billy stepping out of the shadow of Maynard and A Perfect Circle, this is Billy discovering who he is as a musician and songwriter. What Normal Was is a record that will grow on you after a few listens. There’s even a part of it that will make you want to seek out the bands and albums that helped to inspire this record. Personally, I can’t wait to hear what Billy Howerdel does next in his musical evolution.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Poison Flowers:


Free And Weightless:


Beautiful Mistake:


Selfish Hearts:


The Same Again:

Breaks & Rhymes: Dälek- Precipice

I have a very interesting relationship with Hip Hop music. For the most part it’s not something I seek out but, if I hear of something interesting or someone tells me about an artist that I might enjoy I tend to check it out. A couple years back I heard about an experimental hip-hop group that mixed interesting elements of rock, industrial, hip hop, electronica and more along with lyrics that stand for something and are thought provoking. That group is Dälek and let me tell you, if you don’t know about them, you must be living under a rock of epic proportions. Instead of a history lesson about the group (google it on your own), I want to talk about the groups latest release, Precipice.

Precipice is an album bursting at the seems filled with a fury and power that is beyond needed in society today. Topics about what we are all seeing today, the trials and tribulations of life, and an anger that has been missing in hip-hop music since the 90’s. Every single track packs a punch that has your head bobbing but your mind working and listening. Songs like “Boycott,” “Decimation (Dis Nation),” “Holistic,” deliver the goods and then some. Then you have a track like “A Heretic’s Inheritance” which features Tool’s Adam Jones. This track is a little bit of a departure from the album and it has some pretty gnarly droney type riffs to accompany and already moody and haunting song.

Dälek is a group that should be on your musical radar. The catalog of the group speaks volumes and the new material added to that only provides more fuel to the story that is needed to be told. Having an MC like Dälek (aka (Will Brooks) be the voice and when you hear the urgency in the tone and words, you know this is serious. Precipice is an album that will take a few times for you to really truly digest but, when you do, the way it does leaves one hell of a mark.

Overall Rating 8/10

Dälek- Precipice:

Album Review: Cave In- Heavy Pendulum

Cave In are a band that have weathered every storm you can think of as a band. And no matter what is thrown at them, be it life lessons and tragedies, Cave In always comes out on top and armed with a sense of passion and delivery that most bands would and should be envious of. What Stephen Brodsky, Adam McGrath, JR Conners and Nate Newton have put together on their new album, Heavy Pendulum, they should not only be proud of but this album sets the band on a whole new journey of triumphs to be had and stages to rock.

Heavy Pendulum is an album that has one hell of an ebb and flow just like an album should. All the classic Cave In elements are here along with some new twists and turns. As the album begins with “New Reality” it’s obvious the guys are looking to move on from what they have been through and using this a new way to set forth a new path for the band. This track not only sets the tone for the album, the riffs attack with a sense of urgency similar to that of the Perfect Pitch Black era. The melodic leads provide the right amount of ear candy to wet your Brodsky/McGrath guitar appetite. The album continues at a pace that draws you in more and more with lush sound scapes, sick riffs, rhythms that will get you up rocking and maybe dancing a bit, top notch melodies not just vocally, lyrics that are reflective, deep and provide a bit more closure, and a sense that this album really just re-kickstarted a band that is just scratching the surface of where they can go now.

The 14 songs that make up Heavy Pendulum swing ferociously. From all the heavy riffs to the mid tempo drops and the more delicate moments, this album has most definitely earned its spot within the top 5 albums of 2022. I could go track by track which I did when I was listening to the album but, I really believe that takes away from your listening experience. Instead I will point out a few of my favorite tracks like “Blood Spiller,” “Floating Skulls,” “Heavy Pendulum,” “Amaranthine,” “Nightmare Eyes” and the closing song “Reckoning” which I must say Adam McGrath absolutely shines on this song.

The addition of Nate Newton to the band is very present throughout the album. His tone, style of play and passion for this band radiates through each song. After I heard the news of Caleb Scofield’s passing, I knew the only person that could ideally fill his shoes was Nate and not only has he honored Caleb but he’s continued on with same drive for the band that he had. When you hear the parts of the songs that would be “Caleb moments,” Nate drives those parts home with a sense of gusto that I’m sure would make Caleb smile.

Cave In has made an album that not only sums up their career but sets the foundation for where they can keep going. There isn’t one moment on this album that feels forced or makes you want to change a song. The whole album captures the listener like an album should. Heavy Pendulum isn’t just another Cave In album, this one is one that was destined to be made and the end result is something beyond tremendous. Personally, I can’t wait to hear these songs take on a new life when played live. Cheers to Stephen, Adam, JR, and Nate for creating one of the best albums of 2022 as well as one of the best albums in the Cave In catalog.


Overall Rating: A

Cave In- Heavy Pendulum:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Review- Centershift- A Different Shade…

Throughout the years, the voice of a band can really be the difference between a good band and a great band. I distinctly remember the first time I heard a particular band. I was walking along Sunset Blvd on my way to another show and I heard a band just starting and I was completely taken aback. I went to the entrance of the club this band was playing at (The Viper Room), got in cause I knew the door guy (perks of being under 21 at the time and knowing the right people), and from that point in time (pun totally intended) I was hooked not just on the music but the voice. That band was Onesidezero and the voice I heard that has stuck with me ever since was that of Jasan Radford. Fast forward to today and Jasan’s new band Centershift, have just put out their debut EP, A Different Shade… and let me tell you, it’s pretty damn good.

For almost 30 minutes and 7 songs, the moment you put the EP on, it connects with you. The raw emotion and honesty is extremely prevalent on this album. The lyrics to the first song “9” alone pinpoint to that. Speaking on the EP singer/guitarist Jasan Radford said “A Different Shade… is the first piece of what we as a band went through, either personally or together during the last few years. In a way, we wrote and recorded the trials and accomplishments life threw our way.” With that in mind, you the listener can surely find more to connect with. As the EP continues with the stellar “My Own World” (and if you haven’t seen the video for this song, CHECK IT OUT!!), the story begins to unfold and be told. There is a real flow to the way this was all put together. The music that accompanies the passionate words and melodies are on a level on its own. There is a style and tone when you hear these songs that are delicate and full of texture but also hard charging and quite fiery. Then you combine that with the velvety voice and touching lyrics and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of an album. There is one song in particular that I’ve been completely enthralled with and that is the song “Kingdoms.” This one closes out the EP and it’s EPIC! You really need to hear that song (along with the rest of it!).

Centershift is one of the new bands I’m most excited about. The band is made up of Jasan Radford (Onesidezero/Abloom) on vocals/guitar, Ryan Shane Stuber (Shuvel) on guitar, Ted Wenri (Bemus) on bass and on drums Stefan Storace. The four of them have created something that stands up to their other work but also shows the musicianship they have worked on for years and their progression as songwriters. This band is one of those that are the perfect bridge between rock and heavy music. A Different Shade… is only the beginning of where this band has the potential to go.

On Friday May 6, Centershift will be playing at The Federal in North Hollywood as part of Audioeclectica’s Birthday Bash. This show will also serve as Centershift’s EP Release Party! So make sure you come out and see what all the fuss is about! Tickets HERE!!!!!!!

Overall Rating: A

Centershift- A Different Shade…

Audioeclectica Birthday Bash:

Album Review: If It Kills You- Invisible Self

If It Kills You is one of my absolute favorite bands I’ve come across in a long time. Ever since I heard their EP Infinite Hum a couple years back, I’ve been pretty damn impressed with this band. They are the perfect blend of all the things to love about the 90’s rock/post-hardcore but in today’s world.

Invisible Self is an album that deserves immediate attention. It’s an honest album that really you can hear the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. The sonic bursts of ecstasy that permeate through the speakers are beyond enjoyable as the tones and layers provide a welcoming trance that propels you through the albums nine songs. Having Jim Ward of Sparta/At The Drive In in the producers chair for the album, the members of If It Kills You took strides to make sure this was on a different level. Each instrument is soaked in an intensity that most modern bands and albums would be envious of. The passion that the four members put into this album really shows with the performances. Vocally and lyrically Justin Martin really stepped up and took things to a different dimension with some of the songs and melodies. The dual guitars of Justin Martin and Kevin Clark are superbly strong and the push pull of leads and rhythms create this awesome tension in the songs. The rhythm section of Mikee Lee and Tyler Patterson is one hell of a force to be reckoned with. I don’t want to spoil this album so I will forgo a track by track explanation. Know this though, there isn’t one song on this album that shouldn’t be there. Appearances from Shelby Cinca (Frodus), Ben Davis (Sleepytime Trio, Bats and Mice), and Bill Taylor (Songs for Snakes), violinist Jordan Belardes and Jim Ward give the songs an extra tinge of something special.

This is one of my favorite albums of the year. Every time I listen to it, I find something else to love about it. In a world full of stale and bland music and bands, If It Kills You provides that breath of fresh air. They are an inspired bunch creating music that is powerful and has depth. Invisible Self is definitely an album that fits in with 2022. As the nine songs begin to end, the moment it does, the compelling feeling to start it over is ever present. This album is only cracking the surface for the heights that If It Kills You can go.

Overall Rating: A

If It Kills You- Invisible Self:

Album Review: Black Map- Melodoria

Black Map is one of the bands that as soon as I heard, I instantly fell in love with. Armed with the riffs, pummeling rhythms, and right amount of melody, Black Map have cemented themselves amongst the rock world. As a three piece the magnitude of volume emitted from Ben Flanagan (vocals/bass), Mark Engles (guitar), and Chris Robyn (drums) is astounding. Their new album Melodoria is a catchy, inquisitive and etherial driven album.

From the moment the first song “Chasms” kicks things off with that riff, you the listener are truly in for an experience. Black Map didn’t put together a collection of songs, they made an album that demands you listen and soak it all in. Across the ten songs on the album, there are many different vibes that shape the record and take you on a journey. One of the best things about Black Map is the velvetly delicate vocals of Ben Flanagan. Not only can you hear what he’s singing but with each line and verse and listen you get more and more engrossed in the subject matter and the thunderous bass tone that packs one hell of a punch. Mark Engles guitar work on this album is on par with his brightest moments in Dredg. There will always be a tinge of Dredg in this band but, the way it’s used brings in a different element that adds a level of atmosphere and space to the hard driving riffs. And who can forget the absolutely devastating drums provided by the one and only Chris Robyn. The combination of all three of these gentleman has made for one hell of a band and 3 albums of pure and honest rock music.

A band like Black Map is a breath of fresh air in a musical climate where programmed drums and taking the easy way out has become acceptable. Black Map was founded on the premise of being a heavy rock band with melody and they really have delivered the goods on Melodoria. They’ve achieved and found their sound on this album. Taking the best of what the first two albums offered, mix that with the maturity and development and you really have a recipe for a damn good album. I really recommend putting this album while on a drive and letting it take you over. It’s one of those albums that will grow on your in different ways. It hits you in all the right ways depending on where you are at in that moment. Black Map deserves to be played on every stereo and loud. Go see them live when you get a chance, they will rock you for damn sure!

Recommended Tracks: Chasms, Super Deluxe, Madness, Witching Hour, Melodoria

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Black Map- Melodoria:

Album Review: Deaf Club- Productive Disruption

Deaf Club just released an unrelenting force of nature with their album, Productive Disruption. The band features Justin Pearson (The Locust, Dead Cross, Planet B), Brian Amalfitano (ACxDC), Scott Osment (Weak Flesh), Jason Klein (Run With The Hunted), and Tommy Meehan (The Manx, Chum Out!) and their savage sound comes with a blastbeat-centric hardcore punk assault channeling crust, thrash, and grind with a touch of metal. Productive Disruption, was was recorded by Alex Estrada and Tommy Meehan and they captured the true essence of the band, raw, live and uncompromising. There is real sense or urgency when listening to this album. The intensity and passion delivered with the performances of each member proves that this isn’t for the weak hearted. The songs are written and played at breakneck speed but, with the right amount of space between to catch your breath before the onslaught continues. To accompany the release of the album the band performed the whole thing live and when you watch it, the energy radiating from the screen will start pumping your blood faster and the next thing you know a full on mosh pit will erupt from your seat. Deaf Club have started 2022 album releases off with an utter bashing to your head in a total good way!

Overall Rating: A

Deaf Club- Productive Disruption:

Deaf Club- Productive Disruption (LIVE):

Album Review: Failure- Wild Type Droid

A band like Failure doesn’t come around too often. Ever since their inception, they have been pushing the boundaries of rock music. It’s been talked about for years now how much of an influential masterpiece their third album, Fantastic Planet is. That album is truly the new Velvet Underground and Nico. Just like with The Velvet’s anyone who has picked up a copy of Fantastic Planet has inevitably started a band. But that’s not what this is all about. Instead let us focus on the fact that Failure have released their third new album since their return in 2014 and this one is without a doubt in line with the great albums they have produced. Wild Type Droid is out now and it’s absolutely stunning.

Wild Type Droid fits in its own part of Failure lore. As much as it fits within the “space rock” spectrum, this one hits differently. Firstly the music on this record is a bit more rhythmic and complex. The crisp production courtesy of Ken Andrews is superb. Every nuance that should be heard is making for one hell of a listening experience. The performances from all three members especially drummer Kellii Scott is astonishing. There’s almost this whole other level that Ken, Greg and Kellii went to with this one. Painting vivid pictures with the lyrics and melodies along with music that creates a truly whimsical feeling makes Wild Type Droid an album that stands out. The way the album starts, flows, and ends is something special on its own. It’s one of those that you feel compelled to start again as soon as it is over.

This year has already given us so many great albums and Failure’s Wild Type Droid is right there amongst those (Quicksand’s Distant Populations, Every Time I Die’s Radical, Genghis Tron’s Dream Weapon to name a few). For a band that’s technically been around for over 30 years there is no stopping Failure. If anything it’s as though the reunion only made then stronger and reinvigorated. There is no substitute for Failure. Other’s have tried to capture what they do but, if it’s not Ken, Greg and Kellii, it’s just going to sound like an imposter. Cheers to Failure for yet another triumphant album. Personally, I can’t wait to hear these songs live. It’s going to be out of this world good!

Overall Rating= A

Failure- Wild Type Droid:

Album Review: Every Time I Die- Radical

ALBUM REVIEW: Radical - Every Time I Die - Distorted Sound Magazine

Radical is one hell of a way to describe the new Every Time I Die album of the same name. Throughout their career, Every Time I Die have continued to get better and better with each release. Like a fine wine or scotch, the older these guys get, the more ferocious and unrelenting they get. This being the band’s ninth studio album, the absolute urgency felt throughout the album is unparalleled. To top it all off too, there are 16 blistering tracks on this one and the moment it ends, you are compelled to start it over.

Tracks 1-16 are phenomenal. The riffs, beats, bass lines, vocals, lyrics, and melodies are some of the best ETID have come up with. There are moments throughout the album that hark back to previous albums like The Big Dirty and Hot Damn but, there is no denying that these new songs push through what they’ve done in the past. I could go through the album track by track but as I’ve said many times before, that would just ruin it for you, the listener. Instead what I will do is say that there isn’t one track on this album that doesn’t belong or feels out of place. The poetic nature and introspective lyrics of singer Keith Buckley are striking and vulnerable in a different way than on Low Teens. His ability to tell stories and make you think while at the same time rocking out is something that not many people can do. Then you put that together with the crushing riffs of Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley plus the pummeling rhythm section of Steve Micciche and Clayton “Goose” Holyoak and you have the recipe for one of the best bands of the century. Radical also features guest appearances by Josh Scogin from ’68 and Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra, adding another color to these songs. To top it all off is the stunning production from Will Putney (who also helmed Low Teens).

This album is one that will hold up for years to come. Their ability to expand their sound and take risks only make this album stronger. There is a polarizing sensibility to the record but also a delicate tinge that allows the listener to really soak it all in. You’d think that after over 20 years of being a band and all the miles on the road that they’d slow down but, you’re totally wrong. There is no stopping Every Time I Die and Radical proves that!

Overall Rating: A

Review By: Brian Lacy

Every Time I Die- Radical:

Album Review: Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Halsey: If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power Album Review | Pitchfork

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a disdain for pop music. There way it’s all manufactured and put together really drives me nuts, especially in the last 20 years. The word artist gets used way too much in pop music when these people are glorified performers rather than true artists. Though, along the way, there are a few that have been able to carve their own paths and stray away from the generic norms of the pop world. A couple years back my friend played a song for me without telling me anything about it. After the song was over, I quite intrigued by it. The song was “Nightmare” by Halsey and it was great. There was something different about her and I had to know more. Fast forward to now and the release of her new album, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, and now I can’t get enough.

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is a tour de force of an album. Having Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross producing and at the helm, has escalated Halsey into a whole other realm. In a recent interview, Halsey had mentioned that working with Trent Reznor had been a dream of hers for years. Speaking on the direction of the album, Halsey said, “I wanted really cinematic sort of, not horror specifically, but kind of just really unsettling production.” Working with Trent and Atticus has brought in a real element of danger into the fold and genre bending to the pop world. When you listen to this album, you can hear Halsey in her natural element.

This album is unique in that there is not really any “hits” on it. There are catchy chorus’s and elements that are hooks but, it’s definitely not what you expect. There is an intensity and vulnerability throughout the album that radiates and burns ever so bright. Each song brings has it’s own identity. The deep exploratory personal lyrics permeate throughout. The conceptual elements of the album tie it all together in a way that most pop “artists” would shy away from but not Halsey. Instead, this is a head first dive into the psyche and realizations of someone who has finally found a sense of bliss and happiness through all the madness. The gothic undertones along with industrial tinges, atmospheric sounds, mixed with live instrumentation (something that is greatly missing from pop music) and soaring raw vocals, makes for one hell of a listening experience. There are so many songs on this album that I enjoy. At the moment, “Tradition,” “Easier Than Lying,” “You Asked For This,” “Honey,” “I’m Not A Woman. I’m A God,” and “The Lighthouse” are my favorite tracks. I would go in depth on them but, as I’ve said on other reviews, I don’t want to give or take anything away from your own listening experience.

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is one of the best albums of 2021. It offers something new in a genre that has grown stale, boring and predictable. By having Trent and Atticus come aboard and direct this album and bring out all these things to the pop world, will hopefully shift a change for the good. The production is similar in some spots to Trent and Atticus’s How To Destroy Angels project as well as incorporating elements they’ve learned from their film scoring career. The album also features some real heavy hitters like Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters (plays on Honey), Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac (plays on Darling) Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio (plays on You Asked For This), and Pino Paladino (plays on Lilith). Halsey has made an album that not only can she be proud of but, can look back 20 years from now and it will be looked at as a game changer for pop music. If more pop artists were like Halsey and were willing to try new things outside the box and show this side of themselves, there could be a whole new revolution within pop music.

Overall Rating: A


Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power:


Halsey- Nightmare: