Thrice has never been a band to repeat what they did on their last album. They’ve always pushed forward and tried new things. Sometimes those experiments worked (Vheissu) and others not so much (Beggars). Now on their tenth studio album, Thrice have returned with Palms, a record that picks up where To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere left off. Palms is chock full of those signature Thrice moments from the riffs, lyrics, melodies and rhythms that makes Thrice a special band.
There is no doubt that when Thrice writes a “heavy” song, you know that it’s going to be a favorite. Rather than go all out heavy on the first track, “Only Us” starts it off with a very subtle mid tempo track that is heavy but full of melody. Then on track two with “The Grey,” they step it up a bit more to really push the album further. “The Dark” then takes it back to the melodic with it’s dark brooding body. Dustin Kensrue, really shines on this song. “Just Breathe” which features guest vocals from Emma Ruth Rundle, is another stellar track that shows a bit of a different side of the band. As the album continues on with songs like “Everything Belongs” and “My Soul,” Thrice explores a bit of their ballad side, then they bring it back up tempo with the distortion heavy “Hold Up A Light.” Closing out the album is “Beyond The Pines” a very stark and haunting track that continues on the bands experimental path but doesn’t stray from the overall sense of the album.
Overall, Palms is very much a Thrice album. They aren’t trying to sound like anyone else but themselves. The experimentation works for these songs. Since the band returned with To Be Everywhere, you get the sense that Dustin, Teppei, Ed, and Riley are feeling inspired again and have something more to say. The playing and performances on this album are top notch and hark back to their early days, when making music was fun and full of life. The only complaint I have about Palms, is that the mix on this album is pretty weak. Often times, the drums are buried, the bass just becomes a rumble, the crisp/bright guitars are often lost amongst the distortion, and the vocals at times seem to be too compressed. But if you look past these things, Palms is a very enjoyable and full album. Thrice have really pushed themselves to not repeat the past and on Palms, they achieve that and show their collective maturity.
Consistency is one of the biggest things about the longevity of an artists career. There is one band in particular that have not only carved out their own path but, have also been one of the most consistent rock bands over the last 20 or so years. That band is Clutch, and just like their name, when it comes to putting out a new album, they always make it count. Their new album, Book of Bad Decisions, continues along that path. This album stands up with other classics in their catalog like their self titled, Blast Tyrant, Pure Rock Fury, Robot Hive/Exodus and Earth Rocker.
Book of Bad Decisions is a real rock album through and through. There is all the elements you’ve grown to love about Clutch over the years like, the stoner rock, bluesy side, psychedelic tinges, metallic parts, and a slew of crunchy riffs and rhythms. One thing about each Clutch album that makes them all unique is the bands ability to explore different tones and styles without it taking over and changing their blueprint. Songs like ” Gimme The Keys,” “Spirit of 76,” “How To Shake Hands,” “In Walks Barbarella,” “Sonic Counselor,” “Ghoul Wrangler,” “Paper and Strife,” are classic Clutch, doing their style to perfection. Other songs like “Vision Quest,” “Emily Dickinson,” “Hot Bottom Feeder,” “H.B. Is In Control,” and “Lorelei,” are great examples of Clutch exploring different avenues but not straying too far that they can’t have it connect back to their sound.
A couple other things about Book of Bad Decisions that are worth noting is how vocalist Neil Fallon’s lyrics resonate. It’s almost as though he’s a new generational beat poet like Allen Ginsberg was in his time. Neil’s lyrics not only paint a picture but the realism in them provide the listener with picturesque vibe while listening. The other thing is the bands choice of producer. Working with Vance Powell (Red Fang, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys) is a very intriguing choice but not surprising given Vance’s love of using vintage equipment. Before working with Vance, Clutch spent time on touring and testing out these songs on audiences. This gave the songs a different life and they sound crisp and raw.
If you’ve never heard Clutch before and Book of Bad Decisions is your first foray into the band, this is one hell of a great place to start. This has all the elements of the band and it’s done in such a way that captures the real essence of a band. Almost 30 years into their career, Clutch show no signs of slowing down or calling it a day. They still seem inspired and with an album like this, there is no stopping them.
Overall Rating: A
One of the albums I’ve looked forward to most coming out this year was the new Alice In Chains album. Since the band released the single “The One You Know,” I’ve been all sorts of giddy about this album. As the band put out two more singles, “So Far Under” and “Never Fade,” my excitement only grew stronger. So, when Rainer Fog was finally released, it instantly hit a note with me. Not just because Alice In Chains is in my top two favorite bands of all time but, because this album is truly astonishing. Now three albums into their Mark II version of the band, Alice In Chains shows no signs of letting their fans down or losing their knack for making great music.
A couple weeks back I introduced you all to Del Judas and showcased a couple songs from his debut album Deity. Over the course of a few weeks I’ve had the chance to really delve into this album and I have to say it’s magnificent. The gothic vibe along with post-punk nature, and classic country style of Johnny Cash really makes this album a standout of the year. As a music fan, this is one album that not only deserves to be in your collections but also played on repeat for a great deal of time.
There is something magical about this record. For all the darkness that surrounds the songs, there truly seems to be a sense of optimism brewing underneath the songs. Each song has a way of pulling you in and allows you to get lost in the music and lyrics. The general vibe from the album itself is layered with dark and dreary tones but, is soothing and at the same time a bit mysterious. Those moments also help to really bring the material to life. When you have songs like “Dancing With The Dead,” “Touching Fire,” “Through The Glass,” “Of Love and Death,” and “Deity,” to name a few, it’s not hard to see and hear just how mesmerizing this album truly is. Every song on this record plays a vital role in creating not just a soundscape but a dark romantic sensibility.
Deity is an album that will and should be on top ten lists at the end of the year. This is one of my absolute favorite albums I’ve heard this year. I can’t stop listening to it. Even while driving I tend to get lost in the songs and wish the album didn’t have to end. Do yourself a favor and really take some time and get into this album. Not only will you thank me later but, you’ll fall in love with just how good this album is. I really hope there is more to come from Del Judas, because this is only just the beginning of something great.
Overall Rating: A
There are bands in every genre of music that take a left turn thus creating something that stands out and is extremely impactful. Within the hardcore or post hardcore genre, there are countless bands but the ones that I’ve always been drawn to are the ones that take a chance and create something that is full of vigor and vision. Birds In Row are one of those bands for me. One their new album, We Already Lost The World, Birds In Row take a darker, slower and moodier turn without losing the fierce and ferociousness that they have become known for over the years. Musically they have really evolved into a band that understands the importance of what is best for the song. Vocally and lyrically, they are sending a message through the words and performances.
I’ve had the time to sit with this album and it has really become one of my favorite albums of the year. There is something truly moving about the way this album flows and sounds. It has a vibe that is similar to that of the Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come, in that it’s impactful and leaves you wanting to start the album over as soon as it’s done. Starting the album off with “We Count So We Don’t Have To Listen” is one hell of a statement. As the songs continue with tracks like “Love Is Political,” the very emotional “We Vs Us,” and “Remember Us Better Than We Are,” the deep and dark “I Don’t Dance,” as well as the very mature “15-38,” and the moody yet explosive “Fossils,” it just goes to show that Birds In Row have something that needs to be said and the way they went about it is devastatingly beautiful.
We Already Lost The World is one of those albums that will leave a mark on you. The sheer intensity that comes out of each song and performance is astounding. Birds In Row are a band that not only have captured a real essence of “post-hardcore,” they have created a new blueprint for the genre.
Overall Rating: A
The final installment of Nine Inch Nails 3 EP set is finally upon us. Bad Witch is the conclusion to Not The Actual Events and Add Violence and it provides a sense of closure to this piece of work. What Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have created is something that they should be proud of. Each EP stands out on its own merit, with each representing something different. Bad Witch seems to take a little bit from each of the other two and deconstruct it and open the wound for all to see.
Starting off with “Shit Mirror” is a perfect way to set the tone for what this EP is to be. Plus with a title like “Shit Mirror” you know you are going to get something that tingles up and down your spine. “Ahead Of Ourselves” is classic NIN over and over. This song could have been found on Broken or The Downward Spiral. And live, this song is one of those that the crowd will eat up. “Play The Goddamned Part” acts more as a segue but adds a very distinct mood to the middle part of the record. “God Break Down The Door” is a very Bowie-esque song that is more of a tribute to the late David Bowie. The saxophone parts on the song make the song feel bigger than it is and full of texture. “I’m Not From This World” is a stark and ambient track that will sink into your head and guide you along an escape from yourself. “Over and Out” segues perfectly from the previous song and in a beautiful way that is almost haunting and leaves you with a mantra.
The distorted electro jazz that permeates from the speakers as you listen to this EP, sucks you in to a vortex of awesomeness. The entire album is a David Bowie tribute in a way. You can definitely hear the inspiration and influence all over this album. In particular Bowie’s “Low” era. Bad Witch is a pessimistic album but it does come with a grain of optimism. It’s crazy to think that it’s been 30 years since Nine Inch Nails was first formed. Being a fan since I was a little kid till now as a full on adult, I and many of the fans out there, have been able to witness the true artistry of Trent. Each era and album that has ever been put out tells its own story. With the world the way it is now, it’s no wonder that this 3 part saga feels the way it does. Bad Witch is the perfect way to end this chapter. I sincerely hope that there is more to come. Trent and Atticus seemed to have really hit on something full of inspiration.
It’s been four years since Baptists have released a new album. Now in 2018, they have put out one of the best heavy albums of the year. The sheer intensity that is emitted from the 13 songs on Beacon Of Faith is astonishing. Chock full of gritty riffs and pummeling rhythms, Baptists have indeed developed their signature sound and left a permanent mark in hardcore/metal music.
The album doesn’t stray far from the bands metallic hardcore roots. What it does have though is more space and vibes as the songs go on. There is a real sense of warmth to this album even with the aggressive and uncompromising nature of the material. Songs like “Worse Than Hate,” “Beacon Of Faith,” “Gift Taker,” “Vicarious Trauma,” and “Bevel Down” showcase the grit and prowess that Baptists do oh so well. Then there are songs like “Indigo Child” and “Eulogy Template” that take what they do and expand it to almost epic proportions.
Beacon of Faith is an album that will cement Baptists as a force to be reckoned with. This album has the feel of a steel toed boot to the throat that won’t let go.