Album Review

Album Review: Baroness- Gold & Gray

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Ever since they released their Red album, Baroness have been on one hell of a journey. One that would take the band to different highs and lows both musically and personally. Through all that though, Baroness has always persevered and used all of that to create albums (yes I said albums) that encapsulate everything into a beautiful piece of work. Now in 2019, with the release of Gold and Grey, Baroness have rediscovered parts of themselves with an album that is truly a work of art from start to finish. This album is one of the best of 2019 without a doubt.

The moment the album begins with “Front Toward Enemy” there is a feeling that overtakes the listener with a sense of “here we go.” There’s a section in the song lyrically that I like to think of as foreshadowing “We’re headed for disaster, But I won’t close my eyes until it’s over, So carry on.” To me that is such a powerful statement and one that thematically resonates throughout the entire album. As the album continues on, the songs have this wonderful ebb and flow that really pulls you in and crawls under your skin in such a way that you find a sense of comfort in the music, words, and melodies. Songs like “I’m Already Gone,” “Seasons,” “Tourniquet,” “Throw Me An Anchor,” “I’d Do Anything,” “Emmett- Radiating Light,” “Cold-Blooded Angels,” “Broken Halo,” “Borderlines,” and “Pale Sun” are all stunning on their own merit but, as a whole they really deliver something spectacular.

 
The addition of guitarist/vocalist Gina Gleason has given Baroness the touch they’ve always needed. Gina’s guitar playing is outstanding and she and singer/guitarist John Dyer Baizley play off each other in wondrous fashion but, her vocal ability is what really takes this album and it’s songs to anther level. The delicate textures on this album courtesy of the harmonizing vocals makes Gold & Grey stand out even more in the bands catalog. Drummer Sebastian Thomson and bassist Nick Jost, provide this album with a rhythm that is thunderous and pummeling but, in a way that is delicate and dense. The band has always been a stellar band but, this lineup is truly the essence of what Baroness is. There’s only one thing about this album that is off and that’s the mix. It’s pushed a bit too far into the red making for a distorted fuzz sound that at times, overtakes the music and the textures. That’s really the one fault this album has. Other than that, what a great album.

Gold & Grey is an album that with out a doubt stands out not just in Baroness’s catalog but, also in today’s musical climate. The creative elements that brought these songs together shine ever so bright. If you would have told me when I first heard Baroness, that one day they’d release an album like this, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, here we are and they have made a remarkable piece of work, one that will be a pinnacle for bands to follow and be inspired by.

 

Overall Rating= A

 

Baroness- Gold & Grey:

 

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

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Album Review: Cave In- Final Transmission

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Since the start of their career, Cave In have always been the type of band to delve deep into themselves and deliver albums that compliment those feelings and emotions. So, it’s no surprise that on their new (and maybe final) album, Final Transmission, that all the grief and thoughts the surviving members of the band have are front and center.
Final Transmission is an album that is bittesweet all the while is pure and true to what they’ve always done.

Beginning with the title track “Final Transmission,” you automatcally feel the spirit of the late Caleb Scofield. The song is actually a voicemail left by Caleb following a writing/demo session, which features Scofield playing an acoustic guitar and singing a melody over it. From there the album moves to “All Illusion”  a song that features lyrics written by Scofield that was taken from a journal that was found after his death. This is  where the album takes a turn for the sound they all created on the highly acclaimed (and my favorite) album Jupiter. The guitar work by Adam McGrath is superb. He’s use of delay and heavy guitars is masterful. Mix that with singer/guitarist Steve Brodsky’s soaring vocals, and the ferocious rhythm section of drummer JR Conners and Caleb Scofield, and you have the perfect Cave In song. The song “Shake My Blood,” is one that will have you reaching for the box of tissues, as you think about the grief that wafted over each member of this band. Other stellar songs on this album include “Winter Window,” “Strange Reflection,” “Night Crawler” “Lanterna,” and the final track “Led To The Wolves” which is quite a poignant ending to a loving tribute to their fallen brother and friend.

 

Final Transmission was unintended to be released in its form, the band obviously was working on making a complete and full album before the passing of Caleb. There is a slight feeling of this being more of a collection of songs rather than an “album” but, the more you listen, the more it all starts to really gel. One thing that is lacking is the absence of Caleb’s screams which helped to give Cave In more of an aggressive edge as found on Perfect Pitch Black and White Silence. Still, It’s a collection of tracks that see a band who has been gone way too long deliver the goods and really make sure that this is something that Caleb would be proud of.
Overall Rating: A-

 

Cave In- Final Transmission:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

 

Album Review: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes- End Of Suffering

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I still remember the first time I heard that raspy snarl. The charisma that could ignite a crowd into a frenzy. Far removed now from his time in Gallows, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have solidified their place in modern rock today. End Of Suffering, the bands third album, sees the group moving along in away that still connects with their roots but lays down a foundation of where this band can go. 2017’s Modern Ruin was a great benchmark for just how talented this group is. End Of Suffering takes that level and adds a few layers of optimism as well as tenacity.

The entire album is quite interesting. There are many different speeds to this record. On one hand you have a song like the opener “Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider.” This track sets up the album in a tonal way by the feel of the music and the lyrics. There’s a sense of pain but hope in the way it’s delivered and that carries through the rest of the album. Songs like “Anxiety,” “Crowbar,” “Heartbreaker,” “Kitty Sucker,” and “Tyrant Lizard,” which features Tom Morello ripping it up,  all provide the uptempo tenacity that Frank is known for. Then songs like “Love Games,” “Angel Wings,” “Supervillain,” and “Latex Dreams” have a bit more of sensitive side but still contain a sharp edge and gruffness. Ending the album is the title track “End Of Suffering.” This soul bearing song gives a deeper glimpse into the mindset of Frank and where this album is truly coming from.

End Of Suffering is the kind of album that has something for everyone. It’s diverse and full of life. Nothing about this is phoned in or fake. If you’ve been following Frank since his days in Gallows, you know you are going to get a guy giving his all. While this album may seem to be more “straight forward” in terms of sound, it does show what the band is capable of doing as songwriters and how not to constantly repeat what they’ve done before. Frank and The Rattlesnakes (Dean Richardson, Tom Barclay, Gareth Grover and Thomas Mitchener) have really found themselves as a band. End Of Suffering was a not where you think they would have gone after Modern Ruin but, it’s definitely the right move.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes- End Of Suffering:

Album Review: Helms Alee- Noctiluca

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There are certain bands that have the ability to evolve in a way that it doesn’t seem like they are yet, they truly have albeit in a subtle way. Never a band to be complacent or comfortable, Helms Alee have been pushing the boundaries of the sludge metal genre since their first release back in 2007. Noctiluca, the bands fifth full length studio album, sees the band moving more into a progressive territoty while still maintaing their psychedelic and sludgy tendencies.


The album as a whole has something for everyone. Songs like “Interachnid,” “Beat Up,” are signature Helms Alee with thunderous rhythms and delayed guitars that give the album the start and roar it needs. Then you have a song like “Be Rad Tomorrow” which takes the band on a different journey. This song is one of the more experimental tracks on the album with a more prog feel to it. The expansiveness of this song is very representative of how the members of Helms Alee have evolved as writers and players. Then you have a song like “Lay Waste Child” that continues what “Be Rad Tomorrow” started only this song, takes you deeper down the rabbit hole. “Illegal Guardian” seems to complete the trilogy of the previous two songs. This track is everything that Helms Alee is all about. I’m not going to give it away. You just need to listen and you’ll hear what I mean. A song like “Spider Jar” is a welcome treat. It shows off the more melodic side of the band and provides a more delicate approach to the bands sound. Closing out the album is “Word Problem” a song that is drenched in doomy sludge (think Sabbath meets The Melvins). It’s a straight forward song that will have you starting the album over once it’s done.

Helms Alee have created an album that hits on everything they’ve done till now. Noctiluca is the type of album that if you are just discovering the band, it will get you into them for sure. One of the best things about Helms Alee is that as a three piece drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis, bassist Dana James, and guitarist Ben Verellen are super tight and play off each other so well. They have the ability to create a sonic assault that while deafening at times is soothing and almost hypnotic. If you have the chance to see Helms Alee live, I highly recommend you do. Their live show makes their songs truly come alive and will give you one hell of a rush. 

 
Overall Rating: 8/10

 

Helms Alee- Noctiluca:

Album Review: Moon Tooth- Crux

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Moon Tooth is a band that you NEED to know about. There are no if’s and’s or but’s about it. These guys straight up rock. It’s not everyday that a band comes out as strong as they did on their debut album “Chromaparagon,” then follows it up with an album that not only out does their previous effort but, also solidifies them as a force to be reckoned with.

From the moment the first song “Trust” begins with that hard charging riff and pummeling rhythm, it’s game on. An opening track like that not only gets the blood pumping but also sets up the album perfectly for what’s to come. As the album continues, songs like “Omega Days” and “Musketeers” branch out into a proggy atmosphere that is drenched in melody. “Through Ash” and “Motionless In Sky” (which as of this writing are my favorite songs on the album),  are songs that really show off what a great vocalist John Carbone is and what great songwriters the band is as a whole. Other songs like “Thorns,” “Rhythm & Roar,” and “Thumb Spike” are stellar tracks that deliver punch after punch. Then you have a song like “Awe At All Angles” that shows off a different side of the band while at the same time completely fits in the spectrum of the rest of the songs. There is one song in particular that really stood out and that is the title track “Crux,” I’ve long said that title tracks have a tendency to sum up what the album is about and this song is just that. “Crux has all the elements that Moon Tooth brought to the table on this record and delivered it in epic fashion. I’m not even going to tell you how, you just have to listen. Closing out the album is “Raise A Light” a song that like the others on the record, delivers the goods and leaves the album with a sense of closure while at the same time open ended for what’s to come on the next release.

Crux is truly a work of art. The balance of the different genres from rock, metal, prog, jazz and blues really work and compliment each other. The performances from each member are exquisite. Guitarist Nick Lee is a talent for sure. It’s hard to believe at times while listening, that he’s the only guitarist in the band. It’s like he’s got eight extra arms to pull off some of what he’s playing. The rhythm section of drummer Ray Marte and bassist Vincent Romanelli is outstanding. Not only are they super tight but they really compliment each other well. John Carbone has a voice that is soaring and melodic. The passion that is emitted from him and the rest of the band shows through on each and every song. The tenacity and strength of Moon Tooth shines on Crux. This is an album that will be in many top lists at the end of the year. It’s that good. Crux is a complete album from start to finish and deserves to be played that way to get the full experience. Moon Tooth are about to sink their teeth in and rightfully take a bite of their own.

 

Overall Rating: A

 

Moon Tooth- Crux:

 

Videos:

Trust:

 


Awe At All Angles:

 

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

Album Review: Failure- In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind

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Ever since Failure announced their return in late 2013, it’s been a wonderful welcoming sight to have them back. Their first show back was one for the books. It was one of those nights where the stars aligned and everything that was meant to be, happened. Then, they announced The Heart Is A Monster, the long awaited follow up to the highly influential and perfect album Fantastic Plant. The tour that followed that up was something special as well. Now, fast forward a bit and Failure are back yet again with a new album, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. This 16 song collection, follows in the footsteps of the two albums before and comes across as inspired and chock full of everything you’ve ever loved about Failure.

The release of the album began with a series of E.P.’s, slowly wetting the appetite of their fans. Each release would give you just a taste of what’s to come. Failure has never been a band that repeats itself and it shows on each album. They have honed and perfected a style that is truly theirs. This album is a perfect example of how maturity and life intersect to create true art. In a recent interview, Ken Andrews said that this album is probably the most personal album they’ve ever written and it shows. That’s not to say their previous works weren’t personal, this one really does seem to have an extra bit of pouring out of the soul. Musically this album is stunning. The styles vary from space rock, shoe gaze, and very alternative to some of the heaviest riffs and rhythms they have ever put together. Songs like “Dark Speed,” “Paralytic Flow,” “No One Left,” “Found A Way,” “Distorted Fields,” “Heavy and Blind,” “Apocalypse Blooms,” and “Force Fed Rainbows” are among the songs that really stood out to me. The entire album including the segues (what’s a Failure album without segues), is masterful. It’s an true album through and through. The sequence of the songs and how the ebb and flow goes really creates a visceral experience while listening.

 
Failure are the type of band that other bands want to be. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion of who Failure reminds me of and that band is The Velvet Underground. Both bands were ahead of their time, often misunderstood and they both released an album that changed the landscape of music for years and bands to come. Failure’s Fantastic Planet is the 90’s equivalent of The Velvet Underground’s debut album. These two records are beyond responsible for so many bands forming and creating. There is something else about this new Failure album that really stands out to me and that is how truly in sync Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards and Kellii Scott are. The amount of power that rips through these songs is astounding. There’s a sense of urgency about the material and the performances without losing sight of what’s best for the song. It’s remarkable that Failure can continuously put out new music that is this good. Most bands would just choose the safe thing at this point in their career but, Failure takes chances and pushes the envelope. In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind is an album not just for today but one that will be talked about for many years to come. If Fantastic Planet cemented the bands legacy, this album is definitely one that will further compliment that legacy.

 
Overall Rating- 9/10

 
Failure- In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind:

Album Review: The Smashing Pumpkins- Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. I

SmashingPumpkinsAlbThe Smashing Pumpkins came back in 2018 with a vengeance. Their “reunion” tour was outstanding. The 3 hour set of nothing but songs from the beginning of their career till Machina was something special. Everything about it was spectacular. William Patrick Corgan sounded marvelous and having Jimmy Chamberlain and James Iha back with him along with long time cohort, Jeff Schroeder and new comers Jack Bates and Katie Cole added to the truly great experience. When it was announced that the Pumpkins were coming back, WPC, mentioned that there would be new music, and that day is upon us. Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I is here and it’s a delight. It’s everything you’ve ever loved about The Smashing Pumpkins and more.

Starting the album off with “Knights Of Malta” was a superb choice. The song not only sets a tone but it features a groove and melody that will have you swaying and singing along in no time. I have a feeling that this song will fast become a fan favorite and a live staple for years to come. “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” is a pure classic Pumpkins song. Parts of it hark back to the Siamese Dream era but, it’s modern and current without relying so much on nostalgia. WPC sounds dreamy on this song, and Jimmy Chamberlain’s playing is subtle yet commanding. The riff and melody to this song is something that will stay in your head for years to come. “Travels” is a sweet mid tempo song with introspective lyrics. The guitar melodies on this song have a warming and calm tone which gives this song more depth. “Solara” is another classic Pumpkins song. This track is a beast and live it kicks even more ass.  “Alienation” is one of those “deep cut” songs that will have audiences wanting for it live. It’s a beautiful song through and through. “Marchin’ On” kicks the moment it comes in. It’s got an anger and urgency to it just as “Zero” did when that song was first released. This is another that is sure to be a fan favorite. “With Sympathy” has a delicate nature to it. The guitars glisten along with WPC’s vibrant vocals and words. Closing out this volume is “Seek and You Shall Destroy.” This track has a very cool mid 90’s Pumpkins vibe to it but, again isn’t retreating to the nostalgia of it all. Seek sounds like the band in today’s world without losing the roots of what the band is about.

 
All in all Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I is a terrific collection of songs. I wouldn’t say it’s an “album” per say but, it was sequenced in a way that does flow in a way as an album. Having Jimmy and James back in the band is a welcome return. The songs sound like Pumpkins songs because of how they play and treat the songs. Over the years Jeff Schroeder has been able to tap into that “style” and on this album, he’s right there along with James and WPC to make the songs even bigger. This is a welcome return to form for WPC and company. Shiny and Oh So Bright is full of songs that as I mentioned will become fan favorites and live staples for years to come. The Smashing Pumpkins have never been a band that has needed to resort to rehashing the past and this album solidifies that. I can’t wait for the next tour they do so I can hear these songs live. If you ever gave up on The Smashing Pumpkins, Shiny and Oh So Bright Volume I, will bring you back into the fold and you’ll fall in love with the band all over again.

 
Overall Rating: 9/10

 
Knights of Malta:

 

 
Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts):

 

 
Travels:

 

 
Solara:

 

 

 

Alienation:

 

 
Marchin’ On:

 

 
With Sympathy:

 

 
Seek and You Shall Destroy: