Album Review

Album Review: Billy Howerdel- What Normal Was

When the news first broke that Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle/Ashes Divide was going to put out a solo album under his name, I became very intrigued. While reading about the making of the album, there was a quote of Billy’s that really stood out to me, “”This is me stepping back into my early teen self and making the record I would’ve made if I had the means and the knowledge when I first picked up a guitar — just in 2022.” I couldn’t love that statement more. I love that he went back to the well of what first really got his passion of music going and created an album that pays homage to those musical influences and inspirations but this record is one that can stand on it’s own during a resurgence of that sound.

What Normal Was is ten songs of goth tinged, dark pop, with melancholic tendencies and a sense of ambience that is both haunting and beautiful. Digging into his love for bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode and Siouxie and the Banshee’s, you can hear those bands in certain moments wheteher it’s a synth, vocal melody, bass line, guitar part or even a drum beat. But this isn’t a “copy” of those bands. Instead this is Billy making the album that he grew up wanting to make. I have a strange thing about wanting to go track by track as I feel like it gives the listener a preconceived notion but I do want to highlight a couple tracks. Opener “Selfish Heart” is one hell of a track to kick off the record. The vocal delivery on this song is superb. As the album continues tracks like “Free and Weightless,” “Ani,” “Beautiful Mistake,” “Poison Flowers,” and “Bring Honor Back Home” have all been standouts each time I listen. Closing song “Stars” is quite the contemplative track and one that gives the album an open ending to continue on this path at a later date.


What Normal Was is the type of album in 2022 that is not only needed but it’s a teaching tool for all these younger bands and “kids” who don’t quite understand how to make this type of music. The homage portion of the album and the desire to create something that you’ve always dreamed of makes this album work. It’s not just Billy stepping out of the shadow of Maynard and A Perfect Circle, this is Billy discovering who he is as a musician and songwriter. What Normal Was is a record that will grow on you after a few listens. There’s even a part of it that will make you want to seek out the bands and albums that helped to inspire this record. Personally, I can’t wait to hear what Billy Howerdel does next in his musical evolution.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Poison Flowers:


Free And Weightless:


Beautiful Mistake:


Selfish Hearts:


The Same Again:

Album Review: Cave In- Heavy Pendulum

Cave In are a band that have weathered every storm you can think of as a band. And no matter what is thrown at them, be it life lessons and tragedies, Cave In always comes out on top and armed with a sense of passion and delivery that most bands would and should be envious of. What Stephen Brodsky, Adam McGrath, JR Conners and Nate Newton have put together on their new album, Heavy Pendulum, they should not only be proud of but this album sets the band on a whole new journey of triumphs to be had and stages to rock.

Heavy Pendulum is an album that has one hell of an ebb and flow just like an album should. All the classic Cave In elements are here along with some new twists and turns. As the album begins with “New Reality” it’s obvious the guys are looking to move on from what they have been through and using this a new way to set forth a new path for the band. This track not only sets the tone for the album, the riffs attack with a sense of urgency similar to that of the Perfect Pitch Black era. The melodic leads provide the right amount of ear candy to wet your Brodsky/McGrath guitar appetite. The album continues at a pace that draws you in more and more with lush sound scapes, sick riffs, rhythms that will get you up rocking and maybe dancing a bit, top notch melodies not just vocally, lyrics that are reflective, deep and provide a bit more closure, and a sense that this album really just re-kickstarted a band that is just scratching the surface of where they can go now.

The 14 songs that make up Heavy Pendulum swing ferociously. From all the heavy riffs to the mid tempo drops and the more delicate moments, this album has most definitely earned its spot within the top 5 albums of 2022. I could go track by track which I did when I was listening to the album but, I really believe that takes away from your listening experience. Instead I will point out a few of my favorite tracks like “Blood Spiller,” “Floating Skulls,” “Heavy Pendulum,” “Amaranthine,” “Nightmare Eyes” and the closing song “Reckoning” which I must say Adam McGrath absolutely shines on this song.

The addition of Nate Newton to the band is very present throughout the album. His tone, style of play and passion for this band radiates through each song. After I heard the news of Caleb Scofield’s passing, I knew the only person that could ideally fill his shoes was Nate and not only has he honored Caleb but he’s continued on with same drive for the band that he had. When you hear the parts of the songs that would be “Caleb moments,” Nate drives those parts home with a sense of gusto that I’m sure would make Caleb smile.

Cave In has made an album that not only sums up their career but sets the foundation for where they can keep going. There isn’t one moment on this album that feels forced or makes you want to change a song. The whole album captures the listener like an album should. Heavy Pendulum isn’t just another Cave In album, this one is one that was destined to be made and the end result is something beyond tremendous. Personally, I can’t wait to hear these songs take on a new life when played live. Cheers to Stephen, Adam, JR, and Nate for creating one of the best albums of 2022 as well as one of the best albums in the Cave In catalog.


Overall Rating: A

Cave In- Heavy Pendulum:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Black Map- Melodoria

Black Map is one of the bands that as soon as I heard, I instantly fell in love with. Armed with the riffs, pummeling rhythms, and right amount of melody, Black Map have cemented themselves amongst the rock world. As a three piece the magnitude of volume emitted from Ben Flanagan (vocals/bass), Mark Engles (guitar), and Chris Robyn (drums) is astounding. Their new album Melodoria is a catchy, inquisitive and etherial driven album.

From the moment the first song “Chasms” kicks things off with that riff, you the listener are truly in for an experience. Black Map didn’t put together a collection of songs, they made an album that demands you listen and soak it all in. Across the ten songs on the album, there are many different vibes that shape the record and take you on a journey. One of the best things about Black Map is the velvetly delicate vocals of Ben Flanagan. Not only can you hear what he’s singing but with each line and verse and listen you get more and more engrossed in the subject matter and the thunderous bass tone that packs one hell of a punch. Mark Engles guitar work on this album is on par with his brightest moments in Dredg. There will always be a tinge of Dredg in this band but, the way it’s used brings in a different element that adds a level of atmosphere and space to the hard driving riffs. And who can forget the absolutely devastating drums provided by the one and only Chris Robyn. The combination of all three of these gentleman has made for one hell of a band and 3 albums of pure and honest rock music.

A band like Black Map is a breath of fresh air in a musical climate where programmed drums and taking the easy way out has become acceptable. Black Map was founded on the premise of being a heavy rock band with melody and they really have delivered the goods on Melodoria. They’ve achieved and found their sound on this album. Taking the best of what the first two albums offered, mix that with the maturity and development and you really have a recipe for a damn good album. I really recommend putting this album while on a drive and letting it take you over. It’s one of those albums that will grow on your in different ways. It hits you in all the right ways depending on where you are at in that moment. Black Map deserves to be played on every stereo and loud. Go see them live when you get a chance, they will rock you for damn sure!

Recommended Tracks: Chasms, Super Deluxe, Madness, Witching Hour, Melodoria

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Black Map- Melodoria:

Album Review: Failure- Wild Type Droid

A band like Failure doesn’t come around too often. Ever since their inception, they have been pushing the boundaries of rock music. It’s been talked about for years now how much of an influential masterpiece their third album, Fantastic Planet is. That album is truly the new Velvet Underground and Nico. Just like with The Velvet’s anyone who has picked up a copy of Fantastic Planet has inevitably started a band. But that’s not what this is all about. Instead let us focus on the fact that Failure have released their third new album since their return in 2014 and this one is without a doubt in line with the great albums they have produced. Wild Type Droid is out now and it’s absolutely stunning.

Wild Type Droid fits in its own part of Failure lore. As much as it fits within the “space rock” spectrum, this one hits differently. Firstly the music on this record is a bit more rhythmic and complex. The crisp production courtesy of Ken Andrews is superb. Every nuance that should be heard is making for one hell of a listening experience. The performances from all three members especially drummer Kellii Scott is astonishing. There’s almost this whole other level that Ken, Greg and Kellii went to with this one. Painting vivid pictures with the lyrics and melodies along with music that creates a truly whimsical feeling makes Wild Type Droid an album that stands out. The way the album starts, flows, and ends is something special on its own. It’s one of those that you feel compelled to start again as soon as it is over.

This year has already given us so many great albums and Failure’s Wild Type Droid is right there amongst those (Quicksand’s Distant Populations, Every Time I Die’s Radical, Genghis Tron’s Dream Weapon to name a few). For a band that’s technically been around for over 30 years there is no stopping Failure. If anything it’s as though the reunion only made then stronger and reinvigorated. There is no substitute for Failure. Other’s have tried to capture what they do but, if it’s not Ken, Greg and Kellii, it’s just going to sound like an imposter. Cheers to Failure for yet another triumphant album. Personally, I can’t wait to hear these songs live. It’s going to be out of this world good!

Overall Rating= A

Failure- Wild Type Droid:

Album Review: Every Time I Die- Radical

ALBUM REVIEW: Radical - Every Time I Die - Distorted Sound Magazine

Radical is one hell of a way to describe the new Every Time I Die album of the same name. Throughout their career, Every Time I Die have continued to get better and better with each release. Like a fine wine or scotch, the older these guys get, the more ferocious and unrelenting they get. This being the band’s ninth studio album, the absolute urgency felt throughout the album is unparalleled. To top it all off too, there are 16 blistering tracks on this one and the moment it ends, you are compelled to start it over.

Tracks 1-16 are phenomenal. The riffs, beats, bass lines, vocals, lyrics, and melodies are some of the best ETID have come up with. There are moments throughout the album that hark back to previous albums like The Big Dirty and Hot Damn but, there is no denying that these new songs push through what they’ve done in the past. I could go through the album track by track but as I’ve said many times before, that would just ruin it for you, the listener. Instead what I will do is say that there isn’t one track on this album that doesn’t belong or feels out of place. The poetic nature and introspective lyrics of singer Keith Buckley are striking and vulnerable in a different way than on Low Teens. His ability to tell stories and make you think while at the same time rocking out is something that not many people can do. Then you put that together with the crushing riffs of Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley plus the pummeling rhythm section of Steve Micciche and Clayton “Goose” Holyoak and you have the recipe for one of the best bands of the century. Radical also features guest appearances by Josh Scogin from ’68 and Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra, adding another color to these songs. To top it all off is the stunning production from Will Putney (who also helmed Low Teens).

This album is one that will hold up for years to come. Their ability to expand their sound and take risks only make this album stronger. There is a polarizing sensibility to the record but also a delicate tinge that allows the listener to really soak it all in. You’d think that after over 20 years of being a band and all the miles on the road that they’d slow down but, you’re totally wrong. There is no stopping Every Time I Die and Radical proves that!

Overall Rating: A

Review By: Brian Lacy

Every Time I Die- Radical:

Album Review: Red Fang- Arrows

The many sub-genres of rock music are quite fun to delve into. There are certain ones that definitely take some interesting turns and leave you intrigued. Sludge and Stoner metal are two of my favorite sub-genres. Over the years there have been a few bands that have taken the a chance within those genres and explored them deeper. One such band that I’ve been fond of is Red Fang. Since I heard their album, 2011’s Murder The Mountains, I’ve been very interested in what they do on each album. Now in 2021, Red Fang have released their new album, Arrows, and it’s one hell of a ride.

Arrows is a very complete album chock full of great riffs and rhythms. The experimentation on this one shines quite bright too. Rather than rely on the same old tones and sounds that their peers have exhausted, the members of Red Fang meticulously crafted these songs to stand out on their own merit. This album sounds and feels a bit darker than previous albums. There are elements of punk and hardcore that peak out at times giving a new dimension to shift towards. The melodic sensibilities found on these songs are quite strong too. A lot of the times with sludge/stoner metal things get lost among all the fuzz and distortion but, one thing Red Fang has always done is make sure there is room for the melodic. Songs like “Arrows,” “Unreal Estate,” “My Disaster,” and “Anodyne” are my favorites so far, with the latter being one of the best songs the band has ever written.

Arrows is a very strong album. The experimentation works and takes things to another level. This is one of those examples of a band evolving in the right way without leaving their roots behind. The one thing I found a little eh about the album is the production and mix. At times the rumble of the bass and distorted guitars take over too much drowning out the drums but, in a way, it all makes sense. Live though, these songs will be on a whole other level. If you are out there looking for something a little out of left field, than Red Fang’s, Arrows, is the album for you.

Overall Rating: B

Red Fang- Arrows:

Album Review: Genghis Tron- Dream Weapon

Comeback albums are not easy to make. Well they are but, to make an album that stands out and reaches new heights is a whole other level. After many years away (a decade to be exact), Genghis Tron have returned with their new album, Dream Weapon.

Dream Weapon is an album that will leave you with your mind blown. The surreal textures that accompany this album make for a very introspective and psychedelic listening experience. Throughout the very expansive 8 song album that is Dream Weapon, there are a plethora of new and exciting auditory elements to enjoy. The rhythmic punches of percussion are expansive and compliment the synth heavy tracks. Hypnotic is a great way to describe this album. The lush layers and sound design are hypnotic and trippy. I could elaborate on the amazingness of each song but, that would ruin this album for you. Instead I will say that Dream Weapon is epic beyond proportions. The moment the album starts, you are immediately drawn in.

Genghis Tron have made 2021’s first truly masterful album. The core of Hamilton Jordan and Michael Sochynsky is astounding. The additions of vocalist Tony Wolski and drummer Nick Yacyshyn are impecable. Throughout Dream Weapon, there is a calming sense that feels tranquil and invigorating. When concerts come back, I can’t wait to go see Genghis Tron destroy venues with these new songs. I have a feeling these songs live are going to be other worldly. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with this album. It’ll make 2021 feel right!

Overall Rating: A

Genghis Tron- Dream Weapon:

Album Review: Tomahawk- Tonic Immobility

Tonic Immobility is Tomahawk’s first album in 8 years and the end result is something quite intriguing. Adding to the already well established hard rock sound they’ve developed since their debut, Tonic Immobility is one of if not the most diverse album this group has released thus far. There’s something more to this album than the previous one, 2013’s Oddfellows. This album expands on what you’ve heard before and adds some very interesting new curveballs.

As much as people love Mike Patton and his vocal deliveries, the real star on this album is the band. Bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer John Stainer and guitarist Duane Denison have really crafted songs that transcend genres and boundaries alike. The textures on the album along with the riffs and rhythms create a sonic adventure with the icing on the cake being Patton. You can hear all the different sonic waves on songs like “Recoil” and “Sidewinder.” You still have the vintage sound fans of this band have come to enjoy like “Business Casual.” Then you can’t forget how the album starts off with the assault of “Shhh” and “Valentine Shine” which adds a thrash element to the vocals. One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Doomsday Fatigue.” I’m not going to say anything about this one as I’d much rather hear what you think about this one.

Tomahawk delivers the goods on this album. There is plenty for longtime fans of the band to enjoy. If you are a new fan too, this album is a nice way to get into the band. I still will always have a fondness for their first two albums. I even had the pleasure of seeing Tomahawk open for Tool back in 2001. That’s where I really began to develop my appreciation for them. I will say too that it’s very awesome to hear Duane, Trevor, John and Mike all back together again and make an album like this. These guys are too talented to stay in one lane. Tonic Immobility is a strong album and a very welcome return!

Overall Rating: B

Tomahawk- Tonic Immobility:

Album Review: Rob Zombie- The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy

Rob Zombie - The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy - Amazon.com  Music

Rob Zombie has done it. He’s come out with a new album that is an absolutely killer. It’s been a long time since I’ve said those words but, I full stand by them. On his seventh solo studio album, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, Zombie and company have created an album that not only will we the appetite of long time fans but, also those that have been chomping at the bit for a return to the classic White Zombie sound. This is without a doubt the strongest solo album he’s put out since, dare I say his first. Armed with 17 tracks on this album (there are a few interludes that accompany the flow), Rob along with longtime guitarist John 5 have crafted some pretty awesome songs that will no doubt be bangers live but, will also become classic Zombie songs.

I usually like to do a track by track breakdown but, I really don’t want to give away the awesomeness that is this album. The first single “The Triumph Of King Freak (A Crypt Of Preservation And Superstition)” totally caught me off guard the first time I heard it and immediately played it again. This track is superb and a great way to kick things off. It’s even got a bit of the classic White Zombie feel to it. Other stellar tracks on the album include “The Ballad Of Sleazy Rider,” “Shadow Of The Cemetery Man,” “The Eternal Struggles Of The Howling Man,” “The Satanic Rites Of Blacula,” and the album closer “Crow Killer Blues.” There are a few songs though, that are out of left field and bring in some really cool new vibes to Zombie’s classic sound. Those songs are “Boom-Boom-Boom,” “Get Loose,” and “18th Century Cannibals, Excitable Morlocks And A One-Way Ticket On The Ghost Train.” These three songs will make you want to press play again and turn up the volume. Even the interludes are interesting and complimentary. My favorite one is a bit of an interesting one. “The Much Talked Of Metamorphosis” is a stunning piece of music.

The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy is one of the best albums Rob Zombie has been involved in. I was a big White Zombie fan back in the day. I have for the most part always enjoyed his solo albums but, this one, this is the one that needs to be listened to closely by everyone who has ever been a fan of either White Zombie or Rob solo. Month’s back, guitarist John 5 said something in an interview that this album was the best one Rob has done. And he is 100% correct. It’s quite refreshing too that this album has so much to offer. Musically it’s on another level than the other solo albums. Lyrically, Rob stepped up his game a bit and wrote some pretty intriguing and crowd pleasing lyrics. The production is crisp and fits the vibe to a tee. To say this is a good album is an understatement. This is a terrific album and one that Rob and everyone involved with it should be proud of. It’s been a long while since I’ve been to a Rob Zombie concert (think the last time I saw him was 2007?) but, I will most certainly go see him live to hear songs from this album played. What a great return album. Go do yourself a favor and take a listen to this one. You’ll thank me later!

Overall Rating: A

Rob Zombie- The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy: