Joe Barresi

Album Review: Chevelle- NIRATIAS

Review: Chevelle - NIRATIAS | Sputnikmusic

Consistency in rock music is very important. A band can deviate and experiment all they want but, as long as the album or songs don’t stray too far off path their career longevity will for sure continue. Which in the case of Chevelle, consistency is one of the best words to describe them. Since their inception, each album they’ve released has been a solid rock album after another. Some have seen the band try new things and add different elements but, through and through, they’ve always delivered a solid piece of work. So, it’s no surprise that on their new album, NIRATIAS (Nothing Is Real This Is A Simulation), the band stretched their wings a bit more and fully embraced their past, present, and future on this one.

It’s a little strange to start the album off with an instrumental but, “Verruckt” is one hell of a way to start this one off. The hard charging riffs and rhythms are the perfect guide to take you to the absolute banger that is “So Long, Mother Earth.” That track needs to be a single and added to the setlist. Then “Mars Simula” hits you again and there’s nothing left to do but, turn the volume up even more. “Self Destructor” was the first single released and it’s still one hell of a track. It’s very classic “Chevelle” with a bit more of a melodic palette. “Piistol Star (Gravity Heals)” is the song Tool should have released on the snooze fest that is Fear Innoculum. This track is very heavy on the Tool influence but, it’s done in a very tasteful way that makes you wish Tool would write songs like this. “Peach” is another banger of a song and one that will and should be a live staple for years to come. “Endlessly” is an absolute standout on this album. The songwriting on this song is impeccable. Definitely pay close attention to this one. “Remember When” is another hot track on the album with great riffs and a crushing rhythm. “Ghost and Razor” is one of my favorite songs on the album. This track is so damn good. I’m not going to say anything else about this one, just listen to it! Closing out the album is the ambient/piano drive spoken word track “Lost In The Digital Woods.” This is an eerie one but, interesting. It’s a culmination of all the thematic elements that were touched upon through the lyrics and it’s a nice little coda to end things on.

NIRATIAS is one hell of a great heavy rock album. It’s got all the right parts to make this a stand out in the band’s catalog. The underlying conceptual elements on the album make the listening experience quite enjoyable. The interludes help carry the songs over and gives you a moment to reflect on the previous songs. Lyrically this is an expansive album. There’s definitely a science fiction theme to the album with all the mentions of space and time. It makes for an introspective listen and makes you think enough to put the album on again as soon as it’s over. The tones of the instruments and vocals are top notch. Chevelle really found the right producer/engineer in Joe Baressi. His ability to capture the band is astounding. There is something kind of funny about this album too. As I mentioned in the album/song description about Tool, Chevelle has always had a Tool element to their sound. This album does have some straight up moments that are right out of their playbook but, considering how underwhelming the last two Tool albums have been, hearing Chevelle rock go there on certain songs, makes up for that by miles and miles. Chevelle have said too that this is everything they could throw at an album and that it doesn’t do well, they’ll hang up this project for a while. Well, let me tell you, this is one hell of an album and they should be proud of it. It’s definitely one that will be on rotation for a long long while and will be in my top ten at the end of the year.

Overall Rating: A

Chevelle- NIRATIAS:

Album Review: Tool- Fear Inoculum

tool-fear-inoculum-single

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: Alice In Chains- Rainer Fog

Rainier-Fog-Album-Art.jpg

One of the albums I’ve looked forward to most coming out this year was the new Alice In Chains album. Since the band released the single “The One You Know,” I’ve been all sorts of giddy about this album. As the band put out two more singles, “So Far Under” and “Never Fade,” my excitement only grew stronger. So, when Rainer Fog was finally released, it instantly hit a note with me. Not just because Alice In Chains is in my top two favorite bands of all time but, because this album is truly astonishing. Now three albums into their Mark II version of the band, Alice In Chains shows no signs of letting their fans down or losing their knack for making great music.

(more…)

Anticipated Albums: Alice In Chains- Rainer Fog

aiceinchainsrainierfogcd.jpg

On August 24, Alice In Chains will release their long awaited new album Rainer Fog. The 10 song set was produced once again by Nick Raskulinecz (Deftones, Foo Fighters, Rush, etc) and mixed by Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age, etc). Rainer Fog is the first Alice album to be recorded in Seattle in more than 20 years as well as additional work done in Los Angeles and Nashville.  In anticipation of their upcoming new album, Alice In Chains has released another song called “So Far Under” and it’s just as good as “The One You Know” which makes me one happy guy.

You can pre-order the album HERE.

Rainer Fog Track Listing:

01) The One You Know
02) Rainer Fog
03) Red Giant
04) Fly
05) Drone
06) Deaf Ears Blind Eyes
07) Maybe
08) So Far Under
09) Never Fade
10) All I Am

 

Alice In Chains- So Far Under:

 

Alice In Chains- The One You Know:

Album Review: Red Fang- Only Ghosts

f1d1eb154d14f985c1dc5c6120352caa.jpg

After 3 years of non stop touring and writing, Red Fang have returned with their fourth studio album, Only Ghosts. Produced by Ross Robinson, this new album features some of the best performances Red Fang has ever recorded. There is a level of volume about Red Fang that is gripping and explosive, and on Only Ghosts, those elements are even more present. The hooks and riffs have a very strong impact throughout the 10 songs. One thing that I noticed on this new album is that the band have really become solid songwriters. There is a real sense of maturity to this album, and that really brings about something different for them. Tucked in the album are bursts of textures the band have never experimented with, along with ambiance and space to let the songs feel like a different beast. This is an “album” through and through. The mixing of the album is top notch, courtesy of Joe Barresi. Stand out songs include “Flies,” “Cut it Short,” “Shadows,” “The Smell of the Sound,” ” I Am a Ghost,” and “Living in Lye.”

Red Fang have always been a band that makes music they enjoy, and they really showcase that here. Working with Ross, seems to have really brought out something more from them all, with the results being superb. I love hearing a band grow like this and make an album that will stand up with their earlier material.

Overall Rating: B+

Red Fang- Only Ghosts:

 

//a%20href=

Album Review: Every Time I Die- From Parts Unknown

Image

After countless years on the road and upping their game on every album, Every Time I Die seemed to have found the perfect balance of all that worked for them in the past. Teaming up with producer Kurt Ballou of Converge, From Parts Unknown is an unrelenting and cohesive album. All the things that make this band enjoyable is found throughout this album. The production is still raw but has a new approach to make certain instruments more prevalent in the songs and the vocals more coherent. Their previous album Ex Lives with producer Joe Barresi started the band on this track. Clocking in at 31 minutes, the 12 songs are full of introspective lyrics and memorable thrash/hardcore, some of the time adding a solid groove or a melodic tinge.

First track “The Great Secret” has all the above mentioned and then some. This song really kicks things off with a bang. “Decayin With The Boys” is classic Every Time I Die with bits of melody. “If There Is Room To Move, Things Move” is ferocious in its thrashy hardcore roots. “Thirst” is an aggressive heavy song with awesome breakdowns and a real attitude. “The Great Secret” has a Converge vibe to it along with a really heavy groove. “El Dorado” shifts gears a bit and is more of a melodic rock song with a 90’s guitar sound. “Overstayer” is the weakest track on the album. There really isn’t anything that is great about this song. “Moor” is a real departure for the band. Starting with a piano intro that melds very well with Keith Buckley’s clean vocals really showcases the band’s songwriting and ability to be diverse. This song is a real stand out. “Exomotorium” is a solid groove/hardcore song. “Pelican Of The Desert” is heavy and full of energy. It also features a guest vocal cameo from Sean Ingram of Coalesce. “All Structures Are Unstable” is a solidly good melodic hardcore song. Closing out the album is “Old Light” featuring Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem. This song has the cleanest vocals on any Every Time I Die song ever. Musically it goes from a rock song to classic ETID.

All in all From Parts Unknown is dynamic and full of greatness. With the exception of one song, it is a stellar album. Every Time I Die has a knack for putting out solid material and this is no different. I would even dare to say that this album is a statement to all those that try to do what they do but always fall short. On the scale of 1-10, I’d give this an 8.5.

 

 

By: Brian Lacy