One of the most intriguing things about heavy music and its many sub-genres is the ability to take from all of them and make something fun and interesting. Recently I came across a band that has taken bits of metalcore and added some really cool prog elements as well as a tinge of ambience to find a balance that hits you like a ton of bricks when it all kicks in. That band is Invent Animate. Since their inception, they have played and toured with bands like Silent Planet, Northlane, Erra, Currents, After The Burial and many others. Their new album, Greyview (out now via Tragic Hero Records), is a summation of the description above but offers more than what you’d expect. The arrangements and space on these new songs showcase a band that is truly dedicated to writing deep and lasting songs. Invent Animate is a band that is on the verge of truly finding their sound and separating themselves from their peers.
Heavy music is a huge favorite of mine, in case you didn’t notice. The sheer energy and magnitude from that genre really hits home. One sub-genre that I’ve always been fond of is the Thrash Metal. There’s something about the speed, intensity and prowess that pulls it all together. Recently, I was introduced to a band hailing from Virginia that has nailed the Thrash style. Enforced is a band that has all the right stuff down to the blazing riffs, pummeling breakdowns, and hard pounding rhythms. They remind me a little of the band Power Trip (R.I.P. Riley Gale) as well as early Slayer and Kill Em All era Metallica. Enforced will be releasing their new album, Kill Grid on March 12 (via Century Media). These guys are primed to become one hell of a band to see live, once shows are allowed again. In the mean time check out the these two songs from their upcoming album.
One thing I’ve always found interesting is hearing bands from different places. Sometimes, the band from the oddest place, really finds a way to carve their own niche. Which brings me to Mississippi’s own Silent Trust. Hailing from the Gulf side of the state, these guys have taken their love of epic 80’s anthems, 90’s grunge, bits of metal and the modern contemporaries of today to bring a heaviness and an edge to what they do. The music is ripe with melody and riffs to go along with a thunderous almost hurricane like storm of emotions. The band’s debut album was produced by Jim Wirt (Incubus, Hoobastank, and many more) and it captures the sound these guys have been dreaming of. The first single, “My Enemy” is a great encapsulation of what this band is all about. The realness in the lyrics and delivery not just vocally, makes this stand out amongst their peers and especially in their home state. Silent Trust is just beginning to scratch the surface of what they can do and this is the right step forward.
I love a good side project. More often than not, the side project allows the artist to explore a different side and see where that experiment goes. It’s quite interesting to hear this other side and experience something you aren’t used to hearing from that person. Which leads me to the band of the week, Blunt Razors. I’ve long been a fan of the band Planes Mistaken For Stars and when I heard that Gared O’Donnell and Neil Keener were working on new music that wasn’t going to be Planes material, I became very intrigued. While quarantined together throughout 2020 in Peoria, IL, they wrote and recorded a plethora of incredible songs. Sonically, some were enough of a departure from Planes Mistaken For Stars, that the pair felt it deserved a different name. And with that, Blunt Razors was conceived. Their debut release, Early Aught, is comprised of five gut-wrenching originals that have the grit and charm that Gared and Neil are known for. The two songs released so far, “Speeding” and “Amber Waves” show that there is a whole other level of creativity to these two talented writers. Their debut is out on November 20 (via Deathwish Inc).
One of the best things about rock music is the ability to mix different genres and styles. The end result of these concoctions often times end up making for some really intriguing bands. Which is exactly why I’m really digging the band Strangelight. They’ve been able to take rock n roll music and add bits of punk and an anthemic tinge and made something fun, lively and thought provoking. Their debut album, Adult Themes, is chock full of hard hitting rhythms, crunchy riffs and impactful vocals. The production on the album courtesy of Scott Evans (you might recognize him from his work in Kowloon Walled City) gives these songs the added realness their already raw and direct delivery. There are moments when listening to Strangelight, that you pick up on the inspiration and influence of bands like Fugazi, Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt but, it’s apparent in a flattering way and not a straight up rip. Strangelight are the type of band that, I’m sure if you saw them live, they would straight up rip the roof off the venues they play.
In a time when people are saying rock is dead, they obviously aren’t looking in the right places. Rock music is very much alive. Enter Sound & Shape, this three piece band hailing from Nashville, Tennesse, have the right amount of heaviness, soul and melody to keep rock music going. Through the course of the band’s career, they’ve released three full length albums along with two EP’s. They’ve also had the pleasure of touring with bands like Sparta, Kings X, and The Spill Canvas. One of the things that really intrigues me about Sound & Shape is the vocal harmonies. Those harmonies are striking and smooth and have this really cool 70’s vibe that has a nice bit of soul and r&b to them, thus making it stand out. Their new song “All Day Morning,”features those quite well I must say. Sound & Shape are the type of rock band that is needed to keep rock n roll music going.
I love a good throwback sound. Especially when it’s done in a fresh way but still retains the core of what the band is trying to convey. With heavy metal, there is a chance it can go either way but, it seems that Spirit Adrift have mastered it perfectly. Spirt Adrift have taken their love of metal from the 70’s, 80’s and even a bit of the 90’s and crafted an album that has invoked that spirit (pun totally intended), and let it run free. The bands upcoming album, Enlightened In Eternity, is chock full of great songs, melodies, riffs, solos, and so much more. There’s a fun playful vibe to this band but, at the same time you can definitely hear the serious nature of the songs. You can feel and hear the blood, sweat and soul poured into this album, just based on the three songs released so far, “Screaming From Beyond,” “Astral Levitation,” and “Harmony Of The Spheres.” Spirit Adrift have really made an album that stands out from the rest of their peers. Enlightened In Eternity is an album that will leave a lasting impact on those who listen. This band is on fire and they will have you wanting to rock out the moment you put this album on.
Over the past few years there has been a great resurgence of the 90’s sound. There are a lot of bands out there that have embraced it but, not many of them have truly been able to convey that sound properly. This is where I introduce you to the band of the week NinerNiner. This four piece bands hailing from Bakersfield, California have taken that 90’s “grunge” rock sound with bits of punk and a little pop sensibility, to give it all a playful twist. Their latest album, Destructo, is a perfect example of how all that works so well together. The songs have depth and emotion while at the same time have a vibe that makes you want to get up and dance or jump around. Niner Niner, along with a couple other bands from Bakersfield (If It Kills You and Contranistas), seem to be on to something quite interesting.
Melodic hardcore is one of my favorite sub-genres of heavy music. There’s something about mixing the grittiness and heavy riffs with a melodic tinge that really is catching. That being said, I’d like to introduce you to Be Well, a new band with roots that extend far back and then some. Be Well have come out of the gates with a blend of melodic hardcore and post-hardcore to deliver a very emotionally charged sound. The band is made up of a who’s who of familiar faces, on vocals, Brian McTernan (Battery and renowned producer/engineer), Peter Tsouras (Guitar) and Shane Johnson (Drums) from Fairweather, Mike Schleibaum (guitar) of Darkest Hour, and Aaron Dalbec (Bass) of Bane and formerly of Converge. Be Well’s lyrics are extremely personal, relentless and deep courtesy of Brian McTernan chronicling his struggles with depression, fatherhood, loss and then some. There is a sense of hope to it all in the end though. The bands debut album, The Weight And The Cost, arrives on August 21 (via Equal Vision Records) and so far based on the songs released, this album is sure to be a banger. Hopefully too, once all this madness in the world subsides, we can all catch Be Well live get to see these songs really come to life.
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):