Album Review

Album Review: Greg Puciato- Child Soldier: Creator of God

When an artist goes solo, the results can tend to be so full of expectations that, when you finally hear it, it can bit underwhelming but, that’s not the case with Greg Puciato’s solo album. What has been unleashed on this record, is an album that encapsulates every aspect of what Greg has done and unveils a few new twists and turns you might not expect. Child Soldier: Creator of God is an album that is no holds barred and lets true artistry stand out.


Through the 15 tracks and 65 minutes of this record, there is something for everyone who is a fan of Greg and what he’s done, be it in The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Black Queen or his guest appearances. Each song takes on a life of its own as well. There are times when the album feels a bit disjointed but, in actuality, it’s really not. The way the songs are placed and the flow of it, takes you, the listener, on a very distinct journey through the inner workings of what is in Greg’s mind.


Part of what makes this album stand out is the diversity of the songs. There are the moments that are ambient and etherial and then there are those that are straight up in your face hard rocking songs. There is absolutely no compromise when it comes to either of those things on this record. Just when you think it’s going to go one way, you get taken a different route and the end result is astonishing. Another thing about this album that provides a sonic punch is the use of different drummers. Having Chris Hornbrook, Ben Koller and Chris Pennie hitting the skins on this album you get a different pulse behind certain songs the provides another layer to the depth of these songs. Also worth noting is the production and mixing on this record. Nick Rowe’s production and assistance on these songs is just what was needed. And the mix by the legendary Steve Evetts is damn near flawless. You can really feel the grittiness and nuances that are meant to come across.

Having been a fan of Greg’s for quite some time, this album really showcases what a true talent he really is. Having an outlet like this and not being confined by a style or genre has really allowed Greg to find his own way. The moment you put this album on till it ends, it will engulf you with so many different feelings. I wish I could pin point certain songs for you to check out but, that wouldn’t do this album justice. It’s an album through and through. The beauty of an album like this is that there is so much to delve into. The more you listen, the more you find new things to love about it. This year has been a very interesting one for sure with so many moments that leave you shaking your head but, one thing is for sure, this album, is one of the bright spots of the whole year.

Overall Rating= A

Greg Puciato- Child Soldier: Creator Of God:


Album Review: Jesse Draxler- Reigning Cement

Reigning Cement is an artistic testament to really intriguing collaborations. This audio/visual project is definitely something that will peak your curiosity and give you chills at the same time. This project is quite interesting. Each collaborator was given the same 34 sonic elements with which to make a song. These sounds were recorded on an iPhone in an industrial area outside Jesse Draxler’s studio, compiled over a few years. Among the sounds captured: concrete saws, jackhammers, trains, trucks, building alarms, construction sites, and general noise. This is where is gets interesting.


There are 22 tracks on the album and features the likes of Chelsea Wolfe, Vowws, Greg Puciato, Jaye Jayle, and many others in the underground circles. A lot of these “songs” are pretty out there but there is a real honesty to what the end result is. Very few of these have vocals, which makes these sounds come to life even more. There’s a real eerie sense to a lot of these and it would make for some really interesting soundscapes for a horror film.

Through my listens to this album, some of the ones that really stood out to me were the ones that featured Chelsea Wolfe, Greg Puciato, Vowws, Lisa Mungo (of He Whose Ox Is Gored/Fucked & Bound), Street Sects, Dylan Walker (of Full Of Hell), and Jaye Jayle. Those tracks in particular first hit me with what they evoked and emitted. This isn’t an easy listen but, it has so much depth to it and when you mix it with the visual components, it all makes sense.


If you are looking for something out of your comfort zone and a bit artsy, this is the album for you. The more you listen, the more you get out of it. There is something new to discover with each listen. This project is a great example of how collaboration through music and art can really be impactful and everlasting. It would sure be interesting to hear these pulled off live at some point. I think that would make for one hell of a show.


Overall Rating: B+


Jesse Draxler- Reigning Cement:




Album Review: In Parallel- Fashioner

To say this has been an odd year is a total understatement. The world is changing and things are falling apart but, the one thing that can bring us all together is still rooted in music. Thankfully, there have been a a few albums that have been released this year to give us all a break from the madness. One such album that has really been a bright spot is the record Fashioner from In Parallel. There is something truly beautiful and hopeful about the material on this album.


The five songs that make up Fashioner are deep, provocative, haunting and chock full of the right amount of heavy. Though it’s only 30 minutes long, it feels like an epic record. The shoegaze meets alternative sound mixed with the right amount of ambience has made this album one of the best of 2020. Each song has it’s own identity and gets under your skin and gives you chills. From the very moment “Six Over Eight” starts the record and every song in between till you get to the end with “Threat Of Heaven,” there is really no letting up. The depth of each song can stand out on their own merit but, the way it’s all tied in together is what really makes it a piece of art. Having Ken Andrews of Failure mix this album was a brilliant idea. He was able to really bring in all the sounds, textures and layers to make this a sonic revelation.

In Parallel are one of the bands that when you listen will give you hope for the future of music. This album knows how to tug at your heartstrings while at the same time expand your mind with a sensibility of intriguing rhythms, and the right tones. I would also like to make a note that “Leave It With The Ghost” is quite possibly the best song I’ve heard all year. Do yourself a favor and pick up this album. You won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A



In Parallel- Fashioner:


By: Brian Lacy

Band Of The Week: (Damn) This Desert Air

I love it when it’s been a while since you’ve heard from a band you like and they drop new music and it’s really good. That’s the case with this weeks Band Of The Week, (Damn) This Desert Air. It had been a few years since there was new music from this band. Their last album, Pyramids, still finds its way into rotation for me and it’s still a rocking record. Now, they have released a new EP called Nebulosity and it’s chock full of crunchy riffs, hard hitting rhythms and soaring melodic vocals. (Damn) This Desert Air is a band that has taken their cues from the space rock of the 90’s (Failure and Hum), added some cool post-hardcore vibes (a la Quicksand) and some melodic grunge in the way that STP did on Core and Purple. When you listen to the song “Body Anchor (Back In Atlantis),” you can definitely hear all three of those influences come into play. There is also a real maturity to this band as well that will probably get overlooked. That element has given these new songs a real sense of purpose and urgency. The passion you can hear in the performances are undeniable and it truly gives new life to this band. A song like “Lonely Train” is a great example of this. Nebulosity is a great way for (Damn) This Desert Air to come back. This EP is an encapsulation of what they’ve done in the past and are working towards. I urge anyone that reads this to really take the time to listen to this band. The pure nature of what this band is really shines. I’m quite excited to have them back and hope this is just the beginning of more to come.

(Damn) This Desert Air- Nebulosity:

(Damn) This Desert Air- Body Anchor (Back In Atlantis):

Album Review: Bush- The Kingdom

The Kingdom by Bush Reviews and Tracks - Metacritic

There are many bands that have tried to go back to their roots while still remaining relevant but, often the end result isn’t quite what it should be or it feels rehashed. That is not the case with the new album The Kingdom by Bush. Their new album is refreshing and a welcome back to what many loved about them in the first place. Let me start off by saying this is a full on rock album and Gavin and company have really delivered. If you’ve been waiting for them to get back to some good riff rock, this is the album for you.

From the time the album starts to till it ends, the consistency and balance of rock is there. Gavin Rossdale promised a “heavy” album and he along with his band have truly delivered on that. The album is chock full of riff heavy songs like “The Kingdom,” “Ghost In The Machine,” “Bullet Holes,” “Blood River,” and “Our Time Will Come.” There are also the more melodic heavy songs like “Flowers On A Grave,” “Send In The Clowns,” “Quicksand,” “Crossroads” and “Falling Away.” One of the more standout tracks is “Undone,” which has some similarities to the more mid tempo songs in the bands catalog but, it feels fresh and current.

The Kingdom is a bit nostalgic but, not in a bad way. It has the best elements of both Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase along with a bit of an Institute vibe. Also, Gavin working with Tyler Bates (who helped resurrect Marilyn Manson’s career with the great album, The Pale Emperor) has made a real impact and have made Bush relevant again in 2020. Another element that makes this album truly good are the performances by Chris Traynor and Corey Britz. Both of these guys have a very distinct style and it shines through on these songs. Most of the drums on the album were done by Gil Sharone (Current drummer Nik Hughes played on the title track and “Flowers On A Grave” and he did a killer job as well) and his work on this album is pretty damn stellar as well as usual. The songs on this album when played live will be huge. I can’t wait for the day that comes again. The only thing that feels off about this album is how the songs were put in order. Personally, I would have chosen the title track, “The Kingdom” to start the album off with.

If you have given up on Bush, this is the album that will definitely bring you back into the fold. If you are looking for a really solid rock album, this is one that you should really take a listen to.

Overall Rating: B+

Bush- The Kingdom:

Album Review: Lamb Of God- Lamb Of God

Lamb Of God - Official Site

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

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

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

Rating: 8/10

Lamb Of God- Lamb Of God:

 

 

 

 

Album Review: O’Brother- You and I

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

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

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

Overall Rating: A

O’Brother- You and I:

Album Review: Elder- Omens

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

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

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

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Elder- Omens:

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Pearl Jam- Gigaton

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

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

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

Overall Rating: B-/C+

 

Pearl Jam- Gigaton:

 

Band Of The Week: Stabbing Westward

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

Stabbing Westward- Dead and Gone EP:

 

Dead and Gone:

 

 

Crawl:

 

 

 

By: Brian Lacy