Album Review

Band Of The Week: Stabbing Westward

a1089137500_10.jpg

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

Solo Album Spotlight: William DuVall- One Alone

51oN7i5juyL._SS500_.jpg

For more than a decade now, people have been given the opportunity to hear William DuVall’s voice as he fronts Alice In Chains. He has truly done an exceptional job and his voice has breathed new life not just into the band but the legendary songs as well. William is not Layne but, that’s what makes his contributions to Alice so special. He brings with him a soul and spirit that helps to propel and carry on the legacy of one of the best bands ever. On the songs that he’s brought into the band and sang lead on, you can really tell why he was chosen to front the band. Plus the way he sings the older material, there are times when you are hearing it live, and you get chills from the way William sings.

Prior to joining Alice, William fronted and played guitar with the band Comes With The Fall. I had the opportunity many years ago to see a show of theirs and even then, I knew that guy was destined for something pretty remarkable. Late last year (2019), William released his debut solo album, One Alone. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and microphone, William shines and delivers one hell of a record. His vocal delivery on this album is superb as well as haunting and as I mentioned above, full of soul. Each of the 11 songs on One Alone is crafted so well, that you can tell that his ability as a songwriter is underused in Alice In Chains. One Alone is the type of album too that is a visceral listening experience. This album carries a lot of weight with songs like “Till The Light Guides Me Home,” The Veil Of All My Fears,” “Strung Out On A Dream,” “Still Got A Hold On My Heart,” “So Cruel,” and “Chains Around My Heart.” Albums like this don’t come out that often.

 

This is one of the best solo albums I’ve heard in a long time. There is something really special about this one. To be able to be so vulnerable and open like this is truly remarkable. The voice and words alone, will make you listen again and again. William is a talented guy who was the right choice for the Alice gig, without a doubt, and on this album, he really solidifies his place among the best voices in rock music.

 

William Duvall- One Alone:

Band Of The Week: Caspian

a1877221154_16.jpg

Over the last few years, there has been a surge of instrumental bands that have changed the landscape of what you can do without vocals. Certain bands have come to the forefront of that and have released seminal albums that have a lasting impact. Caspian, is one of those bands. Through their career, they’ve released a wide spectrum of albums that have reached the heights of cinematic and grandiose rock with an accompaniment of thunderous rhythms and riffs galore that would can shatter glass. It’s been 5 years since their last album, the very highly regarded, Dust and Disquiet. Now, Caspian have unleashed one hell of an epic album with On Circles that, is one of the most captivating of their career. There’s an intimacy on this album that comes out more and more as you listen, while at the same time, there’s an immediacy to it that drives you to tune in closer and closer. On Circles, is Caspian at a creative height and pushing themselves to step out of their comfort zone even more, for example, on closing song “Circles On Circles,” guitarist Phillip Jamieson adds vocals to this very introspective song.

Hands down, Caspian have released the first great album of 2020. This album is definitely going to be talked about through the whole year, as it should be. It covers a wide range of elements the band has become known for and touches on new ground that doesn’t feel out of reach for their capabilities. Caspian are back and ready to set sail on one hell of a journey with this album.

 

Caspian- On Circles:

Album Review: Seizures- Reverie of the Revolving Diamond

a1060138663_16

There are bands that come around every so often that are truly inspiring and remarkable. More often than not, these bands never get the due they deserve because of the genre they are a part of as well as not playing by the generic norm of the industry. And that’s what makes heavy music truly great. There are no rules to abide by and there are no compromises when it comes to making the type of music and albums these bands want to make. There’s a band from Orange County, CA, that have been carving their own path for some time and with the release of their new album, they have cemented themselves as torchbearers for a genre and have set a standard for what’s to come from this style of music.

Reverie of the Revolving Diamond by Seizures, is an album that is truly outstanding and genre defining. The ability this band has to mix metal, jazz, punk, atmospheric sounds as well as deep and poetic lyrics is something that should not be overlooked by anyone. The instant that the first song “Mazarine” begins, you are immediately drawn into the soundscapes and almost psychedelic undertones. “The Cycles Unnumbered” unleashes a fury of off time playful chaos and delicate jazz scales directly into the rush of blood to your head of “In A Valley Of Twilit Meres.” “Toxophola” is one of the more experimental songs on the album but still maintains the ferociousness that resonates through the entire album. This song also features Keith Barney (of Eighteen Visions/ex Throwdown). “The Ponds You Dried Yet Still You Stare” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It has everything I love about this band all wrapped in one song. Listen and you’ll hear why. “Atollian” continues to expand upon the atmospheric undertones of the album and keeps it tasty as a sweet transition right into the decimating “Of Indigo and Seven Crows.” “Severnaya” provides a really cool interesting vibe as it serves as an entry into “Bedlam Blues” which is the most straight forward song on the album but not in the way that defers from the spastic nature of the album. “On Saturine Shores” is another moving interlude of sorts. These little atmospheric jazz breaks in between songs give the album and listener a breath in between sonic assaults. Closing out the album is “Eru” and this song is epic and like “The Ponds…” this too has a bit of everything that Seizures has to offer and then some.

Seizures have released an album that stands up with the best albums as their contemporaries and the ones that inspired and influenced them.  They have a sound and style that is ferocious and brutal yet delicate and oddly soothing. Reverie of the Revolving Diamond is an album for today as much as Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan was 20 years ago. The band live is a whole other beast as well. I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing them once but, they truly left a mark on me and I’ve been anticipating this album since I saw Seizures. Do yourself a favor and take a chance on something that might (well it probably is) out of your comfort zone and discover what this band has to offer. This album is definitely in my top ten of the year as well.

Seizures- Reverie of the Revolving Diamond:

 

By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not.

59553

In 2017, Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. That album was quite exquisite and it brought life back into Liam along with his legendary voice. Now, here we are a couple years later and Liam has released a new album Why Me? Why Not. This record picks up where the debut left off but, on this one, it gets a bit deeper and more expressive. There’s a nice layer of nostalgia to the album but, it doesn’t rely on it to make it’s point. Instead it’s an album that covers many things from being introspective to what the future holds. The songs and especially Liam’s vocals really draw you in just as the classic Oasis albums did.

The album starts off with a great rock song in “Shockwave.” It’s a very in your face track that will sure be a stellar live song. It’s also got a lot of attitude to it that propels the album as well. “One Of Us” is very blatantly about his brother Noel. It’s also one of the most profound songs Liam has ever sung. There’s a particularly great dig at Noel in the song when Liam sings “You said we’d live forever/Who do you think you’re kiddin’?” a nod to the Definitely Maybe track. That part is so striking. Even the video is stunning. “Once” is another very powerful song that will get all your feelings going as you listen. It’s a very retrospective song that no doubt will have people wanting to reach for their Oasis albums. “Now That I Found You” is a very heartfelt song to his daughter that is full of great melodies. “Halo” is a really solid song that also helps to bring the album back up to a more up tempo beat. “Why Me? Why Not” is a very Liam does John Lennon-esque song. It’s a very sincere and humbling track. One that should be celebrated as a rebirth of sorts for Liam. “Be Still” (which is my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is an edgy rock song that, if played live will be huge. It’s also a soaring song with lyrics and melodies that really help to make this a stand out. “Alright Now” is another song that is pretty deep and chock full of maturity that a young Liam would probably snicker at. “Meadow” is a bit of a solemn song with a sense of optimism and hope to it. The organ and guitars have this cool swell to them which helps to make this song have a cool swing to it that makes it sort of psychedelic. “The River” is another huge song on the album. It’s got a bit of an anthemic feel to it to go along with a later 60’s vibe. This is another one that live will be stellar. Closing the album out is “Gone.” This song feels like it takes on a message of what the whole album is about. There is still a bit of attitude and swagger to it while at the same time it’s almost like a coming to terms with life type of song.

Why Me? Why Not is one hell of an album. It’s honest, pure and humbling. Liam has even said he’s not much of a songwriter so, with the help of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, they have helped to make sure Liam’s words and voice are put on a pedestal and celebrated as each song plays. This isn’t Oasis by any means but, these songs have the ability to stand up with a slew of the classic songs from that era. There is obviously a throwback of sorts to Oasis and the past but, this album doesn’t live there. It’s modern and feels inspired while keeping true to who Liam is not just as a person but as a singer, lyricist, and the rock star that he is. Why Me? Why Not is the perfect name for this album. It’s everything you’d want to hear from Liam and then some. He’s still got the charm and rasp that made him a star to begin with only now, he’s more mature and can see the error of his way. As You Were and Why Me? Why Not can stand up against anything Liam has done in his career and look back on with delight. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album, you won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A

Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Cold- The Things We Can’t Stop

cold-the-things-we-cant-stop.jpg

After 8 years away, Cold have returned. Armed with a new album, The Thing We Can’t Stop, and a new lineup, Cold seem like they are ready to get back to the rock. The new look and sound of Cold continues the bands honest approach to very emotionally driven songs. Scooter Ward, the bands lone original member, meticulously spent time writing these songs to make sure they retained the signature style that makes Cold who they are.

The album starts off with an atmospheric intro of spoken word as it then flows into anthemic “Shine.” I’ll admit when I first heard this song, I thought it was something more fitting for Scooter’s solo project The Killer and The Star but, the more I’ve listened, it really fits in the spectrum of what Cold is. “Snowblind” is one of my favorite songs on the album. This mid tempo jam is dark yet hopeful with gentle melodies that make this song a stellar and stand out track. “The Devil We Know” has bits of classic Cold (a la their first album). This is one song that I can tell when it’s played live will be a fan favorite for sure. “Better Human” is an interesting song. It’s got a very positive message as it fits for today’s world we live in. “Without You” is one hell of a song. The heavy guitar and bass parts along with the groove, have bits of 13 Ways To Bleed in it. As of now, this is my favorite song on the album. As the album continues, it has this sway to it that takes you on a ride of emotions, like “Quiet Now,” “The One That Got Away,” and “Systems Fail” do. “Beautiful Life” and “We All Love” wrap up the album. Both of these songs are deeply heartfelt and give off a sense of hope wrapped in a warm blanket of feelings. Also on the album is a cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run.” The version on this album stays true to the original but, it’s Ward’s voice that pulls it in a different direction.

The Things We Can’t Stop isn’t a part 2 of any of the bands other albums. The closest this one remotely comes close to is A Different Kind Of Pain in the way the emotions play out. This album is a very mature look inside Scooter Ward and his life and pain. As a longtime fan of the band, at first listen you sort of feel like something is missing but, the more you listen and take it all in, the more you start to really resonate with the songs and the mood it puts you in. That’s one thing that Cold has always done well, especially on their first two albums. The new members have given Cold a bit of a different sound but, it doesn’t stray too far from what makes this band who they are.  I do wish that the production on the album was a bit more raw and more in the way that the vocals sounded on their debut and 13 Ways. Had it been like that, I think this album would have been a bit more impact. As I mentioned earlier, this record feels a little out of place in the bands catalog but, in its nature and after a few listens, it’s Cold through and through. No matter what, I and a lot of people are very ecstatic that Cold are back. I very much look forward to seeing the band live again and hearing these songs live. I have a feeling that, these songs live will take on a whole new life.

 

Overall Rating: B

 

Cold- The Things We Can’t Stop:

 

Album Review: Korn- The Nothing

KORN-The-Nothing-Cover-LO-1561485147-640x640

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

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

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

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

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Korn- The Nothing:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy