Album Review

Album Review: With Our Arms To The Sun- Orenda

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With the world fast approaching the end, at least there is good music coming out. One of the most anticipated albums of 2017 is finally here, With Our Arms To The Sun‘s new album Orenda. This band has personally given me more hope for the future of music than any other new band I’ve heard in a long time. The four members of With Our Arms To The Sun have the passion and desire to succeed and their devotion to their art is astonishing.

Orenda, which is defined as by the Iroquois is a supernatural force that is believed to be present in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and that spiritual force is the link toward which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for. So, with that in mind, know that the album that we are talking about is one for the ages. The ten songs that make up the album take you on a journey of self exploration and transcend the norms of rock music. Combining the elements and inspiration of philosophy, prog rock, metal and hope, With Our Arms To The Sun have produced (with the help of Buzz Osborne from The Melvins) an epic album for the times.

From the first song “Disdain- Why I Am” all the way to the final song “Homebound- March of the Trees,”  there is a genuine flow between all songs. The songs range from dark and intense, to ambient and seductive. In particular “Memory- The Drift” “Macrocosm- Prometheus,” “Apex- 100 Year Dream.” “The War- Light The Shadows.” and “Regret- Sailing Stones” encompass all those emotions. Singer/guitarist Josh Breckinridge is a revelation behind the microphone. His ability to lash out into a bellowing scream and then articulate his words with his soothing melodic voice is something that really stands out. Guitarist Joseph Leary adds another layer of heaviness with his back up vocals and his style of guitar playing. Holding down the rhythm ever so pummeling and tight is bassist Joseph Breckinridge and drummer John McLucas, both of whom emit energy and tone that only add to the magnitude of the songs.

I’ve been very impressed with the band not just as musicians but as people too. They are four of the most genuine and humble people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and knowing. Their dedication to their art and music is inspiring. They lay it all on the line every time they take the stage. I’ve mentioned this in other posts about their live shows and I’ll say it again, if your band plays after With Our Arms To The Sun, you best bring your “A” game, because you won’t be able to compete with them. Orenda is an album that emits love, devotion and hope in a time that they are needed more than ever. Do yourselves a favor and buy this album. If you pre-order the album, you get a download of it right away. Do it, it will be one of the smartest things you do all year.

Overall Rating: A+

 

Macrocosm-Prometheus:

 

 

Album Review: Code Orange- Forever

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We are only a couple weeks into the new year and there is already an album released that will be in the top ten for the year. Code Orange’s new album Forever is the album I’m talking about and it will leave you pumped and begging for more. They have managed to transcend the hardcore genre and evolve into a dangerous force to be reckoned with. Let me further explain what I mean. While still keeping true to their hardcore roots, Code Orange has grown by leaps and bounds as songwriters that understand that there is more to music than just being “heavy.”

Starting off the album with the title track “Forever,” it’s chunky and crushing, providing a punch to the gut. “Kill The Creator” is a thrashy meets hardcore song that really shows the bands understanding of dynamics. “Real” is a doom meets hardcore track that continues the assault. “Bleeding in the Blur” is a dark and dreary song that shows another side of the band. This is one of those chance taking moments and it really pays off. “The Mud” is another track that  continues to take a chance and pays off as well. “The New Reality” is what the bands origin was founded on. “Spy” continues to show off the evolution of the band. When “Ugly” kicks in you know you’ve gotten to a point in the album that ties it all together. “No One Is Untouchable” is back to the roots. “Hurt Goes On” is a moody and explosive song. There are bits of an industrial feel to the song as well. I personally think this should have been the album closer. “Dream 2” explores more genre bending and evolution and presents an interesting way to close out the album.

Code Orange have really stepped up their game. Their previous album I Am King, was a statement, and Forever is a full on call to arms. I personally love the way the album flows. It doesn’t feel like anything is out of place. Forever is an album through and through. The evolution of this band is showing that heavy music can come in many forms and still be pummeling. I will say this , if you have a member in the band that has a real “singing voice” use it and don’t be afraid of it. Melody is a great thing, and in this band, it really adds more depth. One more thing, if this is the way the band is evolving, I would love to see them work with a producer/engineer like Joe Baressi (Tool, Every Time I Die, Isis, Nine Inch Nails). I really think Joe could get great tones and songs out of the band.

Thank you Code Orange for doing your part to evolve and be yourselves.

Overall Rating: A

 

Forever:

 

Kill The Creator:

 

Bleeding In The Blur:

 

Album Review: Nine Inch Nails- Not The Actual Events

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Trent Reznor promised new Nine Inch Nails before the end of 2016 and he delivered. Not The Actual Events, the new EP (and first EP since 1992’s Broken) finds Trent and now full time member Atticus Ross, delving deep into the industrial landscape with a bit of shoegaze, and erratic sensibilities. There are moments among the 5 songs that hark back to the Broken days along with bits of The Downward Spiral. I can say this about the EP, if you’ve been wanting Nine Inch Nails to go back to their heavier days, then you are going to really enjoy this.

Starting off with “Branches/Bones” you know that this is Nine Inch Nails. “Dear World” is a song that take a right turn, but doesn’t lose the identity of it being a part of this EP. “She’s Gone Away” is a song that takes you on a journey all on its own. There is a real epic feel to this song. I could really see this one becoming a fan favorite like “Reptile.” “The Idea Of You” is absolute classic Nine Inch Nails from the Broken era. The distorted guitars and thrashy drums (courtesy of Dave Grohl) really make this a true stand out. This song is the type of Nine Inch Nails song, the “old school” fans have been clamoring for. “Burning Bright (Field On Fire)” is dark, heavy and deeply poetic. The screaming guitars are plyed by Dave Navarro (This marks the first time he’s played on a NIN track since the Further Down The Spiral remix album) I could see why Trent decided to put this out first.

There is a real darkness to this collection, all the while providing a sense of life, hope and relief. Trent and Atticus aren’t afraid to reach back into what Nine Inch Nails has done before, but they do it in a way that makes it feel fresh and not rehashed. Not The Acutal Events is short and sweet but, it does leave you wanting more. Either way, there is new Nine Inch Nails out there, and that makes me happy.

Overall Rating: A

Burning Bright (Field On Fire):

 

 

 

 

Album Review: Metallica- Hardwired…To Self Destruct

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Metallica is one of my top 3 favorite bands of all time, right behind Nine Inch Nails and Alice In Chains. I’ve been eagerly anticipating a new album from Metallica for a while now. And I can honestly say that the wait was well worth it. Metallica really delivers the goods on their new album Hardwired…To Self Destruct. This album has everything Metallica fans love about the band. It’s thrashy, riff driven with lots of groove, and harks back to their more raw intense days of say Kill Em All and Ride The Lightning, with bits of the Black album and dashes of Load era blues. Let me simplify that for you, this new album is as though Kill Em All and The Black Album fornicated and did a few lines of Load.

Now here is a track by track rundown of the album:

From the start of the album with “Hardwired,” you know you are in for a ride. The anger and intensity that comes from everyone in the band comes alive on this song. “Atlas, Rise,” is a borderline epic jam that has flashes of Ride The Lightning influence to it as well as an Iron Maiden feel.”Now That We’re Dead” is very groovy, and musically there is a tinge of Alice In Chains to this song. “Moth Into Flame” is one of the best songs Metallica has ever written. There is nothing about this song that isn’t awesome. The melody, the riff, the drums and rhythm, it simply rocks. “Dream No More” is a very “black album/Ride The Lightning” influenced song, with some more grunge rock melody, making for a very gritty track. There is even a mention of Ktulu, which is a nice little ode to the Ride The Lightning era. “Halo On Fire” is  one of the more somber and mellow tracks on the album but, by no means does it lose the edge the rest of the album has. Kirk Hammett’s leads on this song add a sense of melancholy in a good way. “Confusion” keeps with the melodic and heavy riffs. “ManUNkind” is thrashy and heavy. This is one of those songs that really has the Kill Em All/Ride The Lightning feel to it. Plus the video for it is absolutely awesome. “Here Comes Revenge” is another heavy track but, this one has lots of dynamics to it, that separate it from the rest of the pack. “Am I Savage” starts off with a very epic drawl then transforms into a groovy track. “Murder One” is one of my favorite songs on the album. There is something really rocking and cool about this song, as it’s a tribute to the great Lemmy of Motorhead. Closing out the album is the heaviest track on the album “Spit Out The Bone.” This is the type of song many Metallica fans have been waiting for, for many years. This is a song is going to be one of those songs live that will leave you with whiplash from headbanging.

Metallica have delivered a truly great album. From the songwriting, production, artwork, and marketing, Hardwired…To Self Destruct is going to go down as a classic for the band. James Hetfield sounds great on this album. His lyrics are top notch and full of insight and imagery. Kirk Hammett’s solos are tasteful and full of melody. He even manages to lay off the wah-wah pedal enough to showcase his playing. Robert Trujillo provides a layer of thunder with the bass that hasn’t been heard since The Black Album. Lars, well Lars actually brings a speed and intensity that he has lacked in recent years. Sure he’s not playing like he did all those years ago but, he’s giving the songs what they need.

I for one am glad that Metallica took their time and didn’t rush to put out an album. Among their peers in the metal community, they have always done what they wanted and it pays off in the end, with the exception of St. Anger. That was just wretched but, necessary to get the band back to where they need to be, heavy and ruthless in their approach. Take a listen to the entire album and let this album encompass you and make you fall in love with Metallica all over again.

Overall Rating: A

 

Metallica- Hardwired…To Self Destruct:

 

Album Review: Vanishing Life- Surveillance

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When I first heard about Vanishing Life, I already knew, without hearing a song, that this band was going to be something I’m going to enjoy. Having one of my all time favorite drummers in Jaime Miller from Snot behind the kit and Walter Schreifels of Quicksand singing, this was sure to be something special. Joining them on guitar and bass, are Zach Blair of Rise Against and Autry Fulbright of And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead. The first 7″ they put out was two songs of pure energy and unrelenting aggression. Now on their first full length album Surveillance, Vanishing Life has put together a record that harks back to the days when music had something very important to say.

From the urgency of the first song “Realist,” you can tell that you are in for quite a ride. “Outlier,” has a really cool melodic tinge to it without losing the “vibe” of what the band is. “Painter” is the type of song you’d expect from Walter, which has a sort of Rival Schools feel to it. “Pretty Ruined” has a post-hardcore vibe. “Exile” is a great punk rock track. “Image” is a pretty poignant song lyrically. “Vanishing Life” is full of the energy you’d want from a band in this style. “Thinking Weightless” is a really cool song that has great dynamics. “People Running” was featured on their first 7″ and the first song I heard from Vanishing Life, and this song is raw and full of punk ferociousness. Closing song “Big Other” has an epic vibe to it. I could almost see this as a pre-cursor to what the band might evolve into.

There is something beautiful about the simplicity of these songs. These guys are all great musicians and can play the hell out of their instruments, but they understand the need to play according to the song. Everyone in Vanishing Life lives in different areas but, I really hope that doesn’t cause this to be a one off project. This debut album really shows promise of what the four of them can do together and I’d love to hear more.

Overall Rating= B

Vanishing Life- Surveillance:

Album Review: Red Fang- Only Ghosts

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After 3 years of non stop touring and writing, Red Fang have returned with their fourth studio album, Only Ghosts. Produced by Ross Robinson, this new album features some of the best performances Red Fang has ever recorded. There is a level of volume about Red Fang that is gripping and explosive, and on Only Ghosts, those elements are even more present. The hooks and riffs have a very strong impact throughout the 10 songs. One thing that I noticed on this new album is that the band have really become solid songwriters. There is a real sense of maturity to this album, and that really brings about something different for them. Tucked in the album are bursts of textures the band have never experimented with, along with ambiance and space to let the songs feel like a different beast. This is an “album” through and through. The mixing of the album is top notch, courtesy of Joe Barresi. Stand out songs include “Flies,” “Cut it Short,” “Shadows,” “The Smell of the Sound,” ” I Am a Ghost,” and “Living in Lye.”

Red Fang have always been a band that makes music they enjoy, and they really showcase that here. Working with Ross, seems to have really brought out something more from them all, with the results being superb. I love hearing a band grow like this and make an album that will stand up with their earlier material.

Overall Rating: B+

Red Fang- Only Ghosts:

 

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Album Review: Giraffe Tongue Orchestra- Broken Lines

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I’ve waited a little bit to write about Giraffe Tongue Orchestra‘s debut album Broken Lines, to really give it a fair share of listens. After multiple listens I’ve come to the conclusion that this is more a collection of songs than anything, really good songs though. The combination of guitarists Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Brent Hinds of Mastodon, makes for some sweet riffs and some very experimental moments, that you could tell they’ve been wanting to do for some time. Having former Mars Volta drummers Jon Theodore and Thomas Pridgen helps to add to the experimental aspect of the record. Each posses a style uniquely their own, and it fits with what Ben and Brent wrote. The real hero of the album is singer William DuVall. As the new front man for Alice in Chains, he isn’t very pronounced on their albums, but this band gives him a chance to really shine, and shine he does both vocally and lyrically.

The album starts off with “Adapt or Die” a very rocking song with a soaring chorus and lots of foot tapping rhythms. “Crucifixion” is a song that really hits the mark in combining the talents of Ben and Brent. William’s lyrics on this song are top notch. “No One Is Innocent” is a song that will grab you thanks to the riffs and rhythms. It almost sounds like a Jane’s Addiction song in the verses. The chorus is great and packs a real “vibe.” “Blood Moon” is a fun track. There is a sort of 80’s feel to it. Plus the video is pretty awesome. “Fragments & Ashes” is a decent song, though it’s not one of the standouts. “Back to the Light” features guest vocals from Juliette Lewis and it’s quite the rocker. This is one of those types of songs that when it’s played live, it will for sure get the crowd into a frenzy. “All We Have Is Now” is a somber “power ballad” in the vain of the 80’s but without the cheese factor. This song really has sensual melodies from William as the words flow off his velvet tongue. “Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” is a funky jam, with a bit of swag to it, as well as giving the flow of the album a bit of a break. “Thieves and Whores” is drenched in Mars Volta rhythms and heavy riffs. Closing out the album is the title track “Broken Lines.” This song is a great summation of all the influences of Giraffe Tongue Orchestra.

All in all this is a great introduction to a project that has been in the works for a while now. I personally would love to see them be able to take the time to make a cohesive album. I really have to give it to Ben Weinman, Brent Hinds and William DuVall, they are a great team of songwriters. This is definitely a record that will captivate you at certain moments and leave you wanting more. It’s creative and full of inspiration, without taking away from their current bands. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra is here and I hope they continue to put out music.

Overall Rating: B+

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra- Broken Lines:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy