Album Review

Album Review: Machine Head- Of Kingdom And Crown

Machine Head’s new album Of Kingdom And Crown is not just an achievement for the band but, for Robb Flynn on his own. After the hit and miss of Catharsis which saw the band lose half its members (the absolute greats Dave McClain and Phil Demmel, you will definitely be missed) and divide the fan base a bit, it would’ve been an easy way out to either hang up Machine Head and try something solo. Instead, Robb, who is never one to play it safe (just look to the Machine Head catalog for proof), took the time to craft an album that not only stands up to the great ones in the band’s history (Burn My Eyes and The Blackening) but, Of Kingdom And Crown takes things to a different level of epic heaviness with his first concept album. And it’s one hell of an album and ride!

Of Kingdom And Crown is an absolute vicious and and vengeful album that hits home in ways you wouldn’t expect. The concept of the album allows the listener to become one of the two characters in the story and or both depending on how you listen to the album. I stress that this is an “album” that deserves to be played as such. The concept of the album as told by Robb goes “There’s character number one, named Ares [pronounced Aries]. He loses the love of his life, Amethyst, and goes on a murderous rampage against the perpetrators who killed her. Character number two, named Eros [pronounced Arrows], he is the perpetrator, the one who killed Amethyst. He loses his mother to a drug overdose, and in his downward spiral, he becomes radicalised by this charismatic leader and he goes on his own murderous rampage. The lyrics detail how their lives intertwine.” And now that you have that in mind we can get to the songs.

The first song on the album “Slaughter The Martyr” is an absolute banger and epic! It’s a ten minute song that doesn’t feel like it’s that long. It not only introduces the listener to the characters and story, this song is seriously a beast. One of those that when played live, will no doubt be a fan favorite. “Choke On The Ashes Of Your Hate” is another classic sounding MH track. There is a serious ferociousness to this track. One of the highlights on this track is the guitar solo by Vogg. He adds his stamp to Machine Head on this song. “Become The Firestorm” continues the blazing trail that started the album. This one has some killer blast beats and guitar work that hits on that classic sound again. As the album continues, it takes a turn with “My Hands Are Empty.” This track brings in more of the “epic” feeling with the way the almost choral opening starts things off before becoming one of the more thought provoking songs on the album. The song while it fits within the realm of the story, it’s also societal commentary that fits with today quite well. The “epicness” continues with “Unhallowed.” This song has a really cool groove to it while still being a head banger. Lyrically and vocally, you can tell Robb wanted to try different things and it all works. Oh and the solos on this song… DAMN!!! This is one of my favorite songs on the record. “Kill Thy Enemies” is a straight up heavy song that brings the album’s intensity back up a bit. And then, “No Gods. No Masters” comes in and knocks your teeth out. The chorus has this catchiness to it without being tacky. I personally look forward to hearing this one live when Machine Head tours the states. “Bloodshot” is a very direct and heavy track. It’s got an almost punk rock feel to it and then breaks into a groove driven song. “Rotten” is another direct and groove heavy track only on this one it’s more anthemic. I could see this one being worked into the setlist and being a fun one to play and hear live. Closing out the album is “Arrows In Words From The Sky” as song which Robb has said “is maybe the most hopeful song we’ve ever written… even though it’s totally sad and depressing!” And he’s not wrong, the song is one hell of an end of album track. It’s everything you love about Machine Head in one song. This is my true favorite song on the album. I love everything about it. It’s one those songs that you will feel compelled to listen to again once it’s over.

Of Kingdom And Crown is not just a triumph for Machine Head but for heavy music as well. This album not only fits perfectly in the MH catalog but, to me, has set a new standard for the band moving forward. The new blood in the band seems to have reinvigorated Machine Head and Robb. The Pandemic for all the issues it caused the world, seems to have done some amazing things for bands and the material they are putting out. Machine Head should stand proud with this album. It stands up among the best of their career. This is one of those albums that you don’t want to end. It’s that good and then some!

Overall Rating: A

Machine Head- Of Kingdom And Crown:

Of Kingdom And Crown (Spotify):

Album Of The Week: KEN Mode- Null

Heavy music knows no bounds. That’s one of the many things I love about heavy music. The fact that you don’t have to work in a set of parameters to create music that is intriguing, interesting, and that will absolutely decimate everything in its way. Throughout their years, KEN Mode has carved out their own niche among their peers. They done things their own way and it’s proved to be quite successful for them. Their new album NULL, is one hell of an album. Across the 36 minutes of pure aggression, vulnerability and ferociousness, KEN Mode has delievered the goods and then some. In their 20 years together they’ve incorporated elements from punk and hardcore to noise-rock and sludge to mold into an ever evolving sound.

NULL is the bands eighth studio album and they have taken everything they’ve done before and mixed it together to create an album that not only stands on its own merit but, also pushes the band to new directions for the future to come. NULL is an album that hits on feelings of anger, frustration and anxiety and then musically will knock your teeth out with the intensity and tension all of these elements create together. The album isn’t an all out assault. There is a real natural ebb and flow created to takes the listener on quite a ride in a short amount of time. KEN Mode is a band too that is never one to do the same thing. NULL pushes the band into almost avant-garde territory without becoming an “art project” rather it’s quite thought provoking and at times violent.

NULL is an album that isn’t afraid to take chances without being too weird for the sake of being “weird.” The methodical chaos found here is pure and KEN Mode have released an album that seems like only the beginning of what else is to come. In fact, this is only part one of a two part arc. So, when we get part two of this, I would bet that all hell will break loose. In the mean time, NULL is enough to satisfy long time listeners as well as new. KEN Mode are here, armed with a vengeance and throughout this album, you will feel it all.

Overall Rating: B+

KEN Mode- NULL:

VIDEOS:

A Love Letter:

UNRESPONSIVE:

Throw Your Phone In The River:

But They Respect My Tactics:

Album Review: Alphamega- Between Light and Shadow Vol I

I’ve been searching for a band among all the modern metal bands that I can actually get into and watch develop into a monster. It’s been a long struggle but, I have finally found that band that I think can take these little wannabes and knock them on their asses. Today, Alphamega has released their first EP, Between Light And Shadow Volume I and for the 18 minutes that it lasts, it surely kicks some major ass. It’s heavy, melodic, fresh and urgent. The band has embraced their love of Swedish Melodic Death Metal (think Soilwork), American metal (Metallica) and some bits of the Mid 00’s (a la Killswitch Engage- Howard Jones Era). Combining all those elements has given Alphamega the edge they need to separate themselves from all the generic crap that is flooding the “metal markets” today.

Starting off the EP is “Sound Of Your Excuse” that out of the gate it grabs you with its melodic metallic teeth. It’s one of those songs too that when played live it goes to another level of heavy. Following that is the bands first single “No Longer Broken.” It’s a catchy tune that is a true banger and delivers a positivity that is much needed i the dark times we all live in. That chorus is such a sing a long one that you’ll be singing it by the time the second chorus comes in. “Late To The Party” is one of those songs that has the right amount of groove and the right amount of melody. Plus the little breakdown towards the end is killer. “Pariah” is the track that shows the most melodic side of the band without losing their edge.And It’s another great catchy sing along/crowd participation type of chorus. Closing out the EP is “Annihilator” the heaviest track on the album. This one is packed full of aggression and passion. You can hear it the moment this one starts all the way till the last note.

Alphamega is the read deal. There is not one ounce of gimmick with this band. Are there modern things going on sure, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Alphamega has delivered a record that not only they can be proud of but stands out among all the modern bands that lack what they bring to the table. Plus their live show energy is something else. You have to go see them to understand what I’m talking about. Singer Adam Ryan has one hell of a voice. His passion, desire and energy is heard on each song as he delivers heart wrenching vocal performances. I like to think of him as the American Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork. Guitarist Michael Muenzer shows his skills as a talented player and riff writer. Even his solos are done in a tasteful way that have elements of 80’s metal and the 00’s metalcore era. Chrissy Warner delivers the hard pounding beats that guide these honest and powerful songs. I have to say too it’s very refreshing and great to hear live real drums on an album, especially the way records are made these days. Alphamega are here and are coming to take over. Prepare Accordingly!!!

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

Alphamega- Between Light And Shadow Vol I. :

VIDEOS:

Sound Of Your Excuse:

No Longer Broken:

Late To The Party:

Pariah:

Annihilator:

On Spotify:

Album Review: Holy Fawn- Dimensional Bleed

I was not prepared for this album. The moment I put it on, I was completely taken aback by the intensity that permeated through my speakers. From that moment, I was hooked and I didn’t want it to end. There is something transcendent about this album and how it all comes together and hits you like a slew of anvils as though Wile E Coyote would be trying to catch the roadrunner. Holy Fawn have created an utter masterpiece with Dimensional Bleed and there is absolutely no denying it.

The way this album grabs you and doesn’t let go is comforting and at the same time contemplative. The way the band shifts between genres is seamless. Being able to go from metal, shoegaze, with bits of doom and ambient is purely astonishing. Then you have the vocals that sway from these delicate melodies to an outright onslaught of near black metal extremes. The songs flow perfectly into each other creating that ebb and flow that a perfect album has. There is a range of emotions (melancholy sadness, aggression, despair, and anguish) that create a whole other dimension while listening. Musically and lyrically they are both striking and can stand on their own. Dimensional Bleed is as explosive as it is ambient without compromising one for the other. Going track by track for this record, like I’ve said on others, would ruin it for you. Instead, I implore you to listen to this album start to finish and let it soak in. Then when it’s over, start it again and pick up on all the little nuances that you missed the first time.

There is a real emotion and power to Dimensional Bleed that when other bands hear this album, they will try to replicate it but, won’t be able to come close to what Holy Fawn did here. I love that Holy Fawn made an “album” and that it really takes you places. The etherial vibe from this record will stay with you even after listening. I’ve listened to this album many times through and I have to say it has become one of my favorites to listen to while I drift off to sleep. It provides quite the soundtrack to some vivid dreams and when you awake, there is a feeling that you just lived through. Thank you Holy Fawn for Dimensional Bleed. I’m completely enthralled by this and can’t stop listening! Top 5 Albums Of The Year For DAMN Sure!

Overall Rating: A

Holy Fawn- Dimensional Bleed:

VIDEOS:

Void Of Light:

Death Is A Relief:

Album Review: Spirit In The Room- Flamingo

If you’ve been reading Audioeclectica for a while, you know very well that Spirit In The Room is a band that I am quite fond of. I still stand by them being the best live band in Los Angeles and now the wait is over as their new EP, Flamingo is out NOW! Flamingo packs one hell of a punch with the 5 songs on it. It’s astounding how deep and personal these songs are. This EP is a statement record. The range of emotions that shine through on this will take you on quite a ride and at the same time resonate so well with the listener.

Beginning the EP is “If You Must” a fuzz driven soulful track that sets the mood for what’s to come. As it continues on, the more enthralled you get. “My Body” is one of those songs that gets your blood pumping. There is a moment in the song (you’ll know it when you hear it) that might cause you to break out in a momentary mosh pit. “The Bird of Paradise Alights Only Upon the Hand That Does Not Grasp” was the first song released. This song shows different styles of what Spirit In The Room can do. The tension that grows on this song is gripping and won’t let it’s claws loose. “Venting” is a blast of a track. It’s one of those songs that when played live will be explosive. Closing out this grand EP is “I Used To Be A Machine.” This song is absolutely crushing. The vocal delivery on this song (and the entire record) has a sense of urgency to it that will leave you in awe.

Flamingo is not a record for the faint of heart, as this is a very deep, dark and real. There are only a few bands out there today that has the balls to put it all out there and Spirit In The Room is at the top of the pack. There is not one ounce of filler on this record. The production on this EP is stellar. There is a rawness factor to Flamingo that so many bands wish they had. Dennis Sanders along with Phillip Bailey (Drums), Kevin Sepriano (guitar) have truly brought the goods on Flamingo. If you haven’t seen Spirit In The Room live, I highly suggest you do that when they hit your town. And make sure to pick up a copy of this EP. This is for sure going in my Top 10 of the year.


Overall Rating: A

Spirit In The Room- Flamingo:

VIDEOS:

Flamingo Part 1:

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Centershift- OF…

Centershift is on a roll since they came on to the scene. Their first EP, A Different Shade, was the perfect introduction of the band. Now on their second EP, they are showing that the evolution of a band doesn’t have to wait that long as their new EP, Of…, takes everything to a whole new level. Their style and sound truly does stand out amongst all the things you would normally hear these days. It harks back to a time when songwriting, musicianship, and being real meant something.

The EP kicks off where the first one left off, continuing the story. The soaring melodies, driving rhythms and introspective lyrics on Of… will hit the listener like a tidal wave. Opening the EP with “And So” which features Tallulah of the band Grumpy Plum, gives a bit more insight into the thematic elements found throughout the songs. “From Where We Are” is a stellar track that features some truly deep/profound lyrical moments that will get in your head and have you singing along. “Falling Into” has this melodic charm to it that brings a bit of a groove element to the bands style. “Arise” is my favorite song on this EP. This one packs quite the punch both lyrically and musically. Not because it’s a “heavy” song, it is a “heavy” song in the content but, more so in the way there is a bit of tension in this one that pulls towards both the light and the dark. “Everything and Nothing” is a mini epic al on its own. You have to listen to it to fully get why I say that. Ending this EP with “What If”definitely leaves the listener with a question to hold on to until the final chapter unfold.

Centershift has released an EP that not only stands out, it also shows that in this day and age that rock music is alive and well. One thing I really have to compliment is the way the record sounds. They went out of their way to work with someone (Jim Wirt) who could not only bring the best out of each member performance wise but also someone who understands how to capture the right sounds and put it all together to make a sonically rocking piece of art. And rock it does! This is only part 2 of 3 for Centershift and I hope you are along for the ride.

Overall Rating: A

Centershift- Of…

Other Options To Stream!!!

smarturl.it/centershift-of

From Where We Are (Music Video):

Album Review: Thoughtcrimes- Altered Pasts

The debut album Altered Pasts from Thoughtcrimes is without a doubt one hell of a record! There is no other way to put it. Simply this album is one of those that you need to hear and digest. The moment I heard it, I immediately started it again. There is so much to unlock with the 11 songs that are on the album. Altered Pasts is the type of album you find yourself getting more and more immersed in what is happening with each listen.

I have chosen not to do an album breakdown of the songs because I don’t want to give anything away. Seriously, listen to this album in FULL!!! Each song has its own charm and ability to hit you like a ton of bricks. The way the album pulls you in, and the twists and turns it creates, has the ability at times to leave your mind a bit blown. The pummeling riffs and rhythms take you on quite the journey, while the vocals and lyrics take that journey to another level. Then you have the seductive ambience throughout that encompasses this whirlwind of an album. As aggressive as the album is, there is a balance of melody that provides a sweet contrast to the songs. The whole way through the album starting with “Panopticon” and finishing with “Lunar Waves,” you’ll notice that there is absolutely no filler on here. It’s 11 songs of unrelenting ferociousness that you need in your life.

Thoughtcrimes have released one of the best albums of 2022 with Altered Pasts. Everything about this album screams “LISTEN TO ME!” I personally, can’t wait to see what the next step of the evolution of this band winds up being. From their debut EP into this full length, it shows that they are on the right path to leaving quite a mark within the heavy music community. Thoughtcrimes and especially with Altered Pasts, will get into your head and it will stay there with the notion that this album is imperative and much needed in today’s world!


Overall Rating: A

Thoughtcrimes- Altered Pasts:

Album Review: Greg Puciato- Mirrorcell

There are certain times in life when you hear a record that not only takes the artist to a whole other level it, resonates in a way that you begin to get swept away by the absolute force of its being. The evolution of Greg Puciato as a songwriter and artist has been quite the journey to hear and see. From The Dillinger Escape Plan to The Black Queen, Killer Be Killed and now as a solo artist as well, what a significant aspect and contribution to be proud of. On this new solo outing, Mirrorcell, not only is this the a natural follow up to his debut Child Soldier: Creator Of God but, it seems that there is a level of inspiration that took this one further.

“In This Hell You Find Yourself” kicks off this album and creates a tension that sets up an uneasiness and then it grabs you and never lets go as “Reality Spiral” starts to sink its claws in. As you listen, you start to hear where this album is coming from and the influence and inspiration that guided these songs. “No More Lives To Give” steps up the heaviness a bit and takes you on an introspective journey lyrically while musically you are hit with hard hitting riffs and melody that sticks with you. “Never Wanted That” (my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is the “Evacuation” of the record. The way this song hits you is astonishing. The bass driven opening again creates a tension that when the chorus of the song comes in, the crushing emotional weight hits you like a ton of bricks. The vulnerability on this song is absolutely powerful. “Lowered” is one of the tracks on the album that again, takes things to another level. The combination of Greg and guest vocalist Reba Meyers from Code Orange is a revelation. These two voices together make magic and when you hear them together, the chills you get from it, I’ll just leave it there. “We” is a track that has a bit of a Black Queen tinge to it but explores more of the new wave elements that are prevalent in their songs. “I, Eclipse” is another of my favorite songs on the album. The intensity of this song and where it’s placed really guides the last part of the album. There is something else about this song I can’t put into words quite yet that, when this song is played live, I’ll be able to explain further. “Rainbows Underground” is one hell of a stellar song and another one that shows the growth of Greg as a songwriter. Finishing off the album with “All Waves To Nothing” leave you not only wanting more but you are then compelled to start the album over. This track has moments that hark back to Greg’s time with The Dillinger Escape Plan but, in a way that feels natural and a bit different.

Throughout this album you are get to hear a whole other side of Greg Puciato. It’s a more cohesive album than his debut and this one seems to hit on a bit of a more personal streak. One of the revelatory aspects of the record is how talented of a guitarist Greg is. His riffs, solos, and playing is a story all on its own. Perhaps too, his time spent with Jerry Cantrell has rubbed off a bit, as there are plenty of ode’s to Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and other 90’s bands that have inspired Greg throughout the years. Another aspect of this album that deserves a ton of credit are the drums and playing by Chris Hornbrook. His ability to create memorable driving hits and rhythms helps propel these songs to that other level I was mentioning. Seriously, when you hear it all put together, you can hear why Chris and Greg as a duo are perfect for one another. Mirrorcell is not only one of those albums that you will be stuck on for a long time, you actually find yourself immersed in the album as a whole, just like it should. This album is a definite candidate for album of the year. Truly, each time I listen to this album I find something else to love about it. Greg put out one hell of an album with Mirrorcell and should be damn proud of it. I can’t wait to hear these songs live along with the ones from Child Soldier. I have a feeling the live show for this is going to be something special all on its own.

Overall Rating: A


Greg Puciato- Mirrorcell:

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: