Album Review

Album Review: Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not.

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In 2017, Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. That album was quite exquisite and it brought life back into Liam along with his legendary voice. Now, here we are a couple years later and Liam has released a new album Why Me? Why Not. This record picks up where the debut left off but, on this one, it gets a bit deeper and more expressive. There’s a nice layer of nostalgia to the album but, it doesn’t rely on it to make it’s point. Instead it’s an album that covers many things from being introspective to what the future holds. The songs and especially Liam’s vocals really draw you in just as the classic Oasis albums did.

The album starts off with a great rock song in “Shockwave.” It’s a very in your face track that will sure be a stellar live song. It’s also got a lot of attitude to it that propels the album as well. “One Of Us” is very blatantly about his brother Noel. It’s also one of the most profound songs Liam has ever sung. There’s a particularly great dig at Noel in the song when Liam sings “You said we’d live forever/Who do you think you’re kiddin’?” a nod to the Definitely Maybe track. That part is so striking. Even the video is stunning. “Once” is another very powerful song that will get all your feelings going as you listen. It’s a very retrospective song that no doubt will have people wanting to reach for their Oasis albums. “Now That I Found You” is a very heartfelt song to his daughter that is full of great melodies. “Halo” is a really solid song that also helps to bring the album back up to a more up tempo beat. “Why Me? Why Not” is a very Liam does John Lennon-esque song. It’s a very sincere and humbling track. One that should be celebrated as a rebirth of sorts for Liam. “Be Still” (which is my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is an edgy rock song that, if played live will be huge. It’s also a soaring song with lyrics and melodies that really help to make this a stand out. “Alright Now” is another song that is pretty deep and chock full of maturity that a young Liam would probably snicker at. “Meadow” is a bit of a solemn song with a sense of optimism and hope to it. The organ and guitars have this cool swell to them which helps to make this song have a cool swing to it that makes it sort of psychedelic. “The River” is another huge song on the album. It’s got a bit of an anthemic feel to it to go along with a later 60’s vibe. This is another one that live will be stellar. Closing the album out is “Gone.” This song feels like it takes on a message of what the whole album is about. There is still a bit of attitude and swagger to it while at the same time it’s almost like a coming to terms with life type of song.

Why Me? Why Not is one hell of an album. It’s honest, pure and humbling. Liam has even said he’s not much of a songwriter so, with the help of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, they have helped to make sure Liam’s words and voice are put on a pedestal and celebrated as each song plays. This isn’t Oasis by any means but, these songs have the ability to stand up with a slew of the classic songs from that era. There is obviously a throwback of sorts to Oasis and the past but, this album doesn’t live there. It’s modern and feels inspired while keeping true to who Liam is not just as a person but as a singer, lyricist, and the rock star that he is. Why Me? Why Not is the perfect name for this album. It’s everything you’d want to hear from Liam and then some. He’s still got the charm and rasp that made him a star to begin with only now, he’s more mature and can see the error of his way. As You Were and Why Me? Why Not can stand up against anything Liam has done in his career and look back on with delight. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album, you won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A

Liam Gallagher- Why Me? Why Not:

 

Review By: Brian Lacy

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Album Review: Tool- Fear Inoculum

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Tool’s new album is one of the most anticipated albums ever. The drama and hype surrounding this album have been astounding. Even the rumors about this album have given it all sorts of life before anyone even heard a single note. Finally, after 13 years of waiting, the long anticipated album has arrived. The big question though is, was it worth the wait? Well, in the next few minutes of you reading this, you will get my opinion on that.

I still remember hearing Tool for the first time and thinking this was really cool. The first song I ever heard was “Sober” and the video was pretty stimulating to watch. Undertow was obtained a few days later and after that I was hooked. When Aenima was released that changed everything. That album is a masterpiece straight up. Then 5 years after that, Lateralus was unleashed on the world and that left one hell of a lasting impression on everyone. 10,000 Days though, was a record though that took a long long long time to really get into but, one it finally clicked, it made sense. Especially the song “Right In Two.”

Now here we are, thirteen years removed from 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum has finally arrived. The thing is though, was 13 years too long? Yes, yes it was. Allow me to further explain. When a band takes this long to release an album, one would expect the record to be truly masterful, evolved and takes things to another level. Each song on Fear Inoculum feels as though it was obsessed over, torn down and rebuilt to try and create a substantial song but, that amount of detail and agonizing over has provided a bloated sense that these songs are more than just a glorified wank fest.  Instead, what was released was a self indulgent piece of art that is so wrapped up in its own ego that it’s truly hard to really get to the nitty gritty of what is there. It’s not that the album isn’t good, it is, it’s just that this album is drab and feels uninspired. I’m all for long songs. I love listening to an album that really takes you on a journey. This album however, only takes me on a journey to fall asleep.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brilliance on this album. The odd time signatures are aplenty and the Tool sound is ever prevalent. The song everyone seems to be so jazzed about is “7empest.” That song if you were to really cut the fat out of it has the potential to be one of the most legendary Tool songs in their catalog. That song really has some defining moments for the record.  Fear Inoculum is definitely an album that, with the right amount of patience and time, one can come to really enjoy. This is not a casual listen type of album. As with every Tool album, there is a depth to it that takes time to unravel and decipher. This album not only has those elements but there also seems to be another level that they went to that isn’t quite easy to digest. Among the other gripes I have with the album is Maynard’s vocals. It’s as though his vocals were just placed in spots without the right amount of attention needed to truly highlight the singer. All the time spent working on the actual music and not having Maynard in the room really takes away from what this album could have been. Danny Carey is truly a drum champion but, even his parts on this album just like guitarist Adam Jones, tends to go on and one a bit too long and tend to drone on with no end point. That’s not to say they aren’t good at what they do, they just needed to reign it in a bit more and be more concise about the length of parts. My other issue is not having enough moments for Justin Chancellor to shine. On the previous couple albums, Justin had been at the forefront of many of the songs but, on this one he too seems to have taken a back seat and because of that, the album loses a bit of the aura it should have with Justin’s bass tone and playing. The production on the album though is stellar. Sonically it does sound good and it’s mixed very well.

As I mentioned above, it’s not that this album isn’t good, it is but, it’s just rather drab and boring. I know there are a ton of you out there that think this is the be all end all of albums in 2019 but, it’s really just hype. After 13 years, this is the best that they could do? Maynard was even quoted in a recent interview that the album could have been released 8 years ago. I will continue to go back to this album and see if my mind changes about it. I’ve listened quite a few times and even with each listen, I still find myself wanting to reach for a pillow and just drift off to sleep. One other thing, I do find it quite interesting that both the Tool and A Perfect Circle albums have been quite underwhelming. Is it possible that after all this time both bands have lost the fire that once drove them?

Overall Rating: B-

 
Tool- Fear Inoculum:

 

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

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:

 

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Awe At All Angles:

 

 

 

Review By: Brian Lacy