The new breed of singer/songwriters are interesting. Instead of falling back into the comfort of classic influences, the youth of today have been stretching their wings and finding new outlets to be inspired by. I’d like to introduce you all to Alex Baird. Alex isn’t your typical singer songwriter. Following the lead from her late grandmother, Peggi Griffith, an acclaimed torch singer known as the ‘Seattle Darling,’ Alex’s debut is quite the collection of songs. The album is rounded out by new performances of tunes written and recorded in the ’60s by Alex’s late grandmother. And instead of the usual run of the mill type of album you think you’d get this is where it gets interesting. Taking cues from the pop world especially from the age of the 50’s & 60’s and then incorporating a bit of jazz standards into the songs, gives the album a whole new life on its own. Think of it in terms of if Norah Jones and Carole King combined forces, that’s what you get with up and comer Alex Baird. Her debut album, Lemon Tree, is out NOW!
Heavy music has always been my go to. The list is endless of what draws me into this type of music. One of the things that I look and listen for in bands these days is authenticity. It’s one thing to “rip off” a band or style but, it’s another to use all that as inspiration to forge something that is real and honest. Enter New York’s Loss Becomes. Packed with an aggressive style that harks back to the days of NY Hardcore in the 80’s and a bit of early Metalcore (a la Vision Of Disorder) and you’ve got quite the recipe for heavy. Speaking of recipes, one of the other things that drew me into Loss Becomes was the guitarist, Chef Brian Tsao. I’ve been a fan of his in the cooking world for some time and when I heard he had a band I was quite intrigued to check it out and I’m glad I did. Loss Becomes is a band that not only delivers the goods but keeps evolving within the heavy music realms. The songs released so far are unrelenting in heaviness but there’s also a line of melody throughout that keeps the listener engaged.
A while back a good friend of mine told me to check out a band that she thought I might dig. Considering she’s never steered me wrong, of course I gave it a shot. What I heard was something I definitely dug on and it made me even more curious to see what they are all about. Allow me to introduce you to the band, ERRA. These guys have a sound that mixes a heavy prog sound mixed with mid 2000’s metalcore. If I had to name a band they are sort of similar to, I’d go with Architects. Through the course of their career, they’ve released five studio albums and three EPs. Their latest offering, a self titled album is chock full of the right amount of brutality, massive riffs, hard hitting rhythms and soundscapes that create a really cool ebb and flow between parts. Finding yourself lost within the odd time signatures, technical aspects and ambience makes listening to ERRA quite fun. You might have seen them on tour with Born Of Osiris, August Burns Red, After The Burial and Northlane. Through a few different lineup changes as well, the band has evolved to incorporate different textures and intricacies in order to separate themselves from their peers. It’s going to be interesting to see where ERRA goes after this album. I look forward to checking them out live and seeing them rock the place.
In today’s musical world, there are a plethora of choices and at times, it’s hard to keep up with it all. So many bands get overlooked because of that too, which is a shame, because there are so many hidden gems. Over the past year, there has been one band that’s been on my radar thanks to a couple friends who were raving about them. That band is Loathe. This U.K. based band has developed a style since their formation in 2014 that is part metalcore (Poison The Well’s You Come Before You comes to mind) and progressive rock, mixed in a bit of cool ambience and a dash of nu-metal (more so Deftones Around The Fur/White Pony era). The end result has really helped to craft something interesting and when you listen, it has this really natural ebb and flow. Their new album, I Let It In And It Took Everything, is absolutely superb. It’s a culmination of everything the band has done before but, this is a whole other level. The music has a very cool rhythmic groove that is at times “djenty” but the way it is accompanied by some really cool shoegazey vocals, gives it more of a distinct vibe to separate them from the pack. Of course there are the bellowing screams that take the songs to a different level at times. I Let It In And It Took Everything is an album that sounds modern and artistic without relying on a nostalgic factor. Yes, there are moments where the Deftones influence is worn brightly on their sleeves but, it’s not distracting from the overall experience of what you are listening to. Loathe are the right band at the right time. This is just the beginning for what this band is capable of. I’d say within the next album or two they will truly find their own niche and the album that comes from that, will be their White Pony.
A couple months back a friend of mine suggested I take a listen to something. He wouldn’t tell me who it was until a few of the songs were over. As the final song finished, he asked what I thought. I said that was pretty cool and that I bet whoever it was would be pretty rad to see live as well. A couple minutes passed and he then told me it was this band Ho99o9 (aka Horror). I had heard the name before but never heard the music. At that point I sought out obtaining the album that he played me and I was sold. The album in question was United States Of Horror, which is also the bands debut studio album. Ho99o9 is a group that combines elements of hip hop, industrial, hardcore, and trip hop. Since their inception in 2012, Ho99o9 have been making a name for themselves with their explosive and adrenaline soaked performances. They’ve shared the stage with bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Street Sects, 3 Teeth and will soon be on tour with Korn and Alice In Chains this summer. Ho99o9 is the type of band that is needed at the moment. Just as things have gotten watered down by bands changing their style to match the atrociousness of groups like Imagine Dragons and Nickelback, Ho99o9 is the plague that is coming to rid us of all that garbage. I for one am very interested to see where this band goes and what sort of danger they bring back to the rock world. Ho99o9 is on the rise and rightfully so.
Ho9909- United States Of Horror:
There’s something in the water over in the UK. Over the past decade there has been a new explosion of bands coming out of the United Kingdom and leaving a mark on the heavy music scene. Bands like Architects, Sylosis and Bring Me The Horizon are leading the new UK scene. There is another band that deserves to be mentioned along with those above, and that band is Monuments. Formed by Fellsilent’s Josh Browne and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza’s John Travis, Monuments released their debut album Gnosis in 2012 (via Century Media Records). Their follow up album, The Amanuensis, really saw the band hit their stride in terms of songwriting and style. Their proggy djent sound along with groove driven elements, started to make Monuments more of a household name. The band would go on to tour with groups like Born of Osiris, After The Burial and Jeff Loomis. Not long after, lineup changes occurred and new members were brought in. Now in 2018, Monuments have released their third album Phronesis. The album was recorded in various studios in different countries. Interestingly, the vocals were recorded with Ill Nino singer Christian Machado. The album itself is Monuments doing what they do best, delivering groovy djent with a bit of prog. This album sees the band exploring differnet territories and not going down the “play it safe” route. They seem to understand that evolution is necessary in order to prolong the longevity. Sure, some fans of the band might not dig on certain tracks, but the core essence of the band is still there.
A couple years back Meg Myers came on the scene with a sense of urgency. Her unbridled delivery and very real lyrics made her an artist to watch. Meg sure made an impact with her debut album Sorry as well as her intense live performances. Now on her second album, Take Me To The Disco, Meg takes risks and explores a side that delves deeper into the last couple years of her life.
The album begins with the title track “Take Me To The Disco.” This song sets a mood and gives you a lyrical taste of what is to come. “Numb” the first single deals with the pressures of being on a major label and all the weight that comes with it. “Jealous Sea” is one of those songs that really hits. The moody music and beats along with Meg’s lyrics and vocal prowess on this song really makes it a standout track. Other stellar songs include, “Tear Me To Pieces,” “Little Black Death,” “Done,” “Tourniquet” and “I’m Not Sorry.” One of my personal favorites “The Death Of Me” is one of the best songs Meg has ever written. You can feel every emotion she sings about from heartbreak, anger, and love. It’s a truly powerful song. Closing out the album is “Constant,” a song that really sums up the album and what it stands for. It’s one of those songs that gives you chills while listening.
Take Me To The Disco is an album that stands out on it’s own. It’s not trying to duplicate what Meg did on Sorry. The production of Christian “Leggy” Langsdon, crosses genres and gives the album a breath of fresh air among a sea of over-produced manufactured garbage. Meg Myers is as real as it gets. I’ve often thought of her as a cross between Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, and on this album her Tori side comes out a bit more. Meg is without a doubt a bright spot in a rather dull and corporate styled market. After listening to Meg bare her soul, you’ll understand why Meg Myers is truly an artist to watch out for.
There is a band that is out and about right now that is decimating audiences where ever they play. Their debut full length is leaving a lasting mark in the heavy music circles. And the best part is they are still so young. I’m talking about the band Vein. This is one hell of a band and they deserve your attention.
Vein formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 2013. Their music takes bits and pieces from metalcore, hardcore, punk, and a hint of early nu-metal. Their debut album Errorzone, is one of 2018’s most acclaimed albums. The album in no way sounds forced or out of place. You can tell that each member of the band has studied their influences and without trying to duplicate what they’ve heard, Vein has managed to make something that sounds inspired. There is a real sense of urgency to these songs and album. It’s almost like a call to arms of the entire scene. The length of Errorzone is barely 30 minutes. That tells you that there is no letting up. The eleven songs on the album pummel from the instant the album starts to the end.
Errorzone is just the beginning for Vein. They are on to something that reaches beyond just the hardcore genre. The way they experiment shows that they have so much more to offer. It’s going to be really fun to watch this band progress over the years. Vein is here to inject their style into you and let it take over.
I’ve said it many times before and I stand by it, heavy music and melody go together like peanut butter and jelly. They both come from different places but when they are combined the end result is perfect. There is a band out right now that does melodic heavy music perfectly, and that band is Light The Torch. You might recognize them originally as Devil You Know but, due to a former band member causing some issues, the remaining members opted to change the name and continue on albeit on a slightly different path. The first two Devil You Know albums were more in that “djent” style but now with Light The Torch, they have gone more melodic without losing the “heavy.” Singer Howard Jones (formerly of Killswitch Engage) sounds great and just as good as he did on the Killswitch album The End Of Heartache. The riffs courtesy of guitarist Francisco Artusato aren’t over complicated, instead they have a really subtle ebb and flow of clean and distorted tones.
Their album Revival is exactly the type of melodic heavy record that you’d want to hear from this band and Howard. When you have songs like “Die Alone,” “Calm Before The Storm,” “Raise The Dead,” and “The Safety Of Disbelief,” it really shows a different side of each member and allows Howard to showcase his pure singing voice. Then you have a song like “The Sound Of Violence,” which sounds a bit like Howards pre-Killswitch band Blood Has Been Shed. Closing the album is “Judas Convention” which is a great summation of what the album has to offer.
Revival isn’t reinventing melodic heavy music but it sure gives it a shot in the arm. Having Howard Jones in this sort of shape both vocally and lyrically gives Light The Torch the guidance needed to really leave their mark on the scene. I’m just putting this out in the aether but, a Killswitch Engage/Light The Torch tour sure would make a lot of sense and would be HUGE!!
Every now and then a band comes along and reignites a genre that hasn’t been relevant in a while. Depending on what time you grew up, you just might have a connection to that specific genre. The mixing of rock/metal and hip hop has been around for almost 30 years now. Some bands were able to do it extremely well like Rage Against The Machine, and some more underground bands like Downiest and Hed PE (their first album). Recently a band has come out that has brought back that sound but have done it in a way that isn’t cheesy like Limp Bizkit. I’m speaking of the band Fire From The Gods. Based out of Austin Texas, Fire From The Gods have incorporated hip hop into their music along with with a generous helping of melody, hardcore, and metal. I’d like to note that not all their songs feature the rap-rock sound, only a handful of the songs have rapping in them, like the song “Excuse Me.” Instead the band focuses on melody and hooks to gain your attention. The band, fronted by the very charismatic AJ Channer, is definitely a band that you need to look out for. I like to think of them as a more melodic Sevendust, only a bit more socially conscious. Their album Narrative is one hell of an album. It’s full of all the above I mentioned but also a very uplifting feeling. Musically the band is tight and churn out some tasty riffs and rhythms. From their videos I’ve seen, their live shows are full of energy and heaviness. It’s no wonder why Fire From The Gods are a band to watch out for.