My memories of 2018 are inextricably linked to amazing music. Life has been fairly unremarkable, but for the sonic highways I have followed which led to me writing for the great Metal Nexus site. Thank you Fist, for taking me on and for the whole team being like family. I am blessed that I can creatively vent through this fantastic site.
This year has seen my love for Metal music being well and truly filled. It has been another bumper year and I hope my top album picks make for interesting reading and lead to people listening to the albums. Whatever you do, please support the artists and I look forward to even more great music in 2019.
*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Iowa.*
Space Burial formed in 2015. They are a psychedelic/stoner/prog rock band from Dubuque, Iowa. Created as an outlet by singer/guitarist Pinky, Space Burial became, in their own words, “an excuse to stay out late and buy vintage instruments and recording gear.“
Space Burial‘s self titled EP, along with their sophomore release ‘Celestial Seed’ is available on BandCamp.
The band eat heavy musical food, with a mind-altering content. They have successfully fused modern sounds with Seventies prog influences. In addition, they write tunes that matter and have urgency. They pepper spray the listener with spoken word parts in songs and know when to put the hammer to the floor and drive off into the stratosphere.
*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Wisconsin.*
My Memory Remains formed in June of 2015. The band consists of Nicole Steinmetz on vocals, Aaron Aull and Justin Perry on guitar, Kyle Miller pn drums and CJ Schmidt on bass.
They are based in Eau Claire, WI and have appeared on the same bill as killer bands such as The Devil Wears Prada, All That Remains and Otep.
From their biography, the band “write music in a way that everyone can relate to and can feel a connection with.” They are a hard rock band with Metal leanings and a singer with an incredible voice and range.
*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Rhode Island.*
There is not a great deal I know about Rhode Island’s Public Policy, but their Facebook page gives a colorful overview – “Public Policy is a sinewy, brash, and beautiful rock ‘n roll band from Providence, RI. Complex, tightly-crafted rock songs churn and boil under dense and plaintive lyrics. It’s not jangular, and there’s no saxophone in sight.“
The band is comprised of Dean Gardner (vocals, guitar), Nick Cooper (guitar, vocals), Dan Moriarty (drums, backing vocals) and Dan Sliwinski (bass guitar, backing vocals).
Public Policy – Human Resource
Their sophomore release ‘Human Resource’ was recorded by Daryl Rabidoux at The Radar Studio, Clinton, CT and Axion Media Lab, Pawtucket, RI. It was mixed by Daryl Rabidoux at Axion Media Lab, Pawtucket, RI.
This is five tracks of steaming emotion, a stream of consciousness that brings back Grunge and Emo in one post-hardcore package. The vocals veer between sneers and tears and the guitars rip away right in your face.
The band are artists, first and foremost. Nothing on this release cries out any rock star pretentions. They are a ball of concentrated acidic chords and some bitter gospel songs for the new generation. The concerns of the young are howled out on tunes such as “Ice Age“, with its eco-sermon “burn down together” refrain.
Other fine numbers include “Insulin“, with its chopping chords and grinding punk verses. Make no assumptions, these guys can play and have melodies weaving their way around this release. They know they want to talk to you and they know their message needs to get through.
They also have the same alternative vibes as the early Eighties indie bands, but they have the power that eludes those artists. They sound as if the struggle has been all too real…
Check out Public Policy and see if you can get behind their human resourcing.
*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Florida.*
“A country divided
A smeared reputation
The veil pulled back
To reveal the death machine” – All Is Dust
This month, I take a look at Leviathan Cross, the three piece band based out of Tampa, Florida who have “a fascination with the occult and the macabre.“
The band were formed in 2015 and have released two EPs to date, a self-titled in 2016 and ‘All Is Dust’ in August of this year. The band is comprised of James Herrholz on guitar/vocals, Kyle Weidner on bass/vocals and Brandon Thrift on drums. They have a dark sound, which stretches beyond the three piece format. There is an errie sense of menace in their grooves that would neatly fit into the soundtrack of a horror film.
The music, whilst distorted to some white noise limit on their self-titled EP, has evolved into a riffing maelstrom of monstrous proportion on ‘All Is Dust‘. They have cleaned the production and swabbed the sonic decks with the now crystal clear sound taking them into the stratosphere of Doom Metal.
The latest release really does bite at your ears from the off. It has a nasty claustrophobic vibe that also tingles your senses with aggressive distain. The band are tight and have more hooks than a butcher’s shop. They stretch muscles of music and infuse with spices beyond imagination.
The songs on ‘All Is Dust’ leap out and pull you into the weird layer of pain. sweetened by guitar nuggets and drums that paralyse with an urgency unknown by many who play in this dark arena.
“Ava” ushers in the EP with a choppy piece of alternative guitar and then smashes you with a riff that is a classic. The singing is clean, but emotional. This may be one thing that sets Leviathan Cross apart from many others in the genre. It is a unique sound, full of unexpected melodies and power. The voice should be slightly higher in the mix, but it still sounds fantastic. The fuzzbox distortion solo is great as well.
A bumping bass and drums opener sets off the NWOBHM inspired “Static Regime“. It is another killer riff and I can see these guys playing arenas with this tune.
“Beyond The Veil” sparkles with grinding diamonds in its life. “The Well” has some thundering bass drumming and a razor sharp riffing wall. The song speeds along, breaking into territory that was reserved for Speed Metal bands back in the day. This is not your standard Doom fare.
The penultimate track is “K Webster“, which is less of a success for me, as it hasn’t the tunefulness of the other compositions.
The EP finishes with the title track and this is a pretty political song, opening with some of President Trump’s soundbites. It is a call for greater unity and a discovery of division. It is also the only time when Death Metal vocals are used, to great effect. Awesome!
There you have it – Florida produces yet another top band, destined to be remembered in years to come as a serious player. Check them out!
*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is West Virginia.*
“I’m tired of tugging my hair
And scratching my neck ’til it’s red
And I’m wired from all of the coffee
I’m funneling into my head
My legs are jelly at night
From boogiein’ straight into bed
And I try to straighten it out
And get tangled all over again” – “Boomerang”
RozwellKid are an unusual landmark band, breathing life into the saturated market of pop punk. They take a quirky look inside the body politic of American society much the same way that David Lynch does with his vignettes of life in his movies. Continue reading →
From the ashes of Swedish Doom / Stoner band NORRSKEN rose two new bands. Whilst some of the band formed WITCHCRAFT, the rest formed the classic retro-modern GRAVEYARD. They strode into the spotlight with a steely stare and a sense of purpose.
After forming, the band were swift to record a two track demo and played a total of three shows, before planning for a full-length album. Their self-titled debut album was recorded by Don Ahlsterberg and released in early 2008. On the recording sessions’ completion, Truls Mörck was replaced by guitarist Jonatan Ramm.
GRAVEYARD then toured with label mates WITCH. In the fall of 2008, they also toured with CLUTCH. In 2009, they toured with the rock band CKY and released their second album in spring of 2011. Touring followed, with the likes of SOUNDGARDEN. However, bass player and co-founder Rikard Edlund then left the band to “pursue other musical ventures“. In September 2015, the band released the ‘Innocence & Decadence’ record through Nuclear Blast.
On 23 September 2016, the band announced they had broken up, citing, “all so classic reasons.” This hiatus lasted only until 2017, when the band announced their reunion, albeit with a new drummer as Axel Sjöberg decided to stay with his new band.
The album ‘Peace’ is the reunion tentpole. It was produced by Chips Kiesbye and is released via Nuclear Blast. It combined elements of Stoner/Doom, but with many more references to 60’s and 70’s artists. The warm, yet somewhat retro production, gives it a sound that is very welcome in the cold age of digital perfection.
The songs shift around your consciousness and I have generally been impressed by the thoughtfulness of songs such as “Walk On” and “Del Manic”. The sound is propelled by guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson’s fantastically rich vocals and the jazzy content on some songs makes this record a genuine treat to fall into. Like a feather coated beartrap – you initially feel comfortable until the teeth chomp on your leg.
There is a feeling of a band genuinely understanding the pulls of the musical universe and who are acutely aware of their place in the patheon of chaos. They seem to be stretching out on an aural adventure in an effort to put distance between them and their somewhat tumultous past. However, it is a solid album with great tunes such as “A Sign Of Peace” and the opener “It Ain’t Over Yet”.
If your bag is thoughtful, grooving Stoner rock with a warm retro feel, then GRAVEYARD is a band for you to check out.
*This is a part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state*
This month’s state is Alabama!
The band I AM TERRIFIED was formed as FIXED TIL TUESDAY in Birmingham, Alabama by guitarist Jeremy Folse, vocalist Patrick Schefano, and drummer Joel Bailey. They got together from meeting at local schools and churches. Influenced both by the sound of church hymns and hardcore rock, the three formed the band and released an independent self-titled EP containing six songs.
After much consideration, FIXED TIL TUESDAY changed their name to I AM TERRIFIED sometime between 2006 and 2010. The name comes straight from the verse in the Bible’s Book of Job 23:14-15 which reads, “He carries out His decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store. That is why I am terrified before Him; when I think of all this, I fear Him.“
The band was signed in 2007 to Mono Vs Stereo Records and began work on their debut EP. When Mono Vs Stereo was put on hiatus by its parent company Gotee Records, the band was transferred to Gotee’s roster. ‘I Am Terrified’ was released in July 2008. This is their only recorded output to date.
This is a therefore seemingly a strange choice for the State Of The Artist, as the band periodically goes on hiatus (last heard of in May 2017 for some select dates), but they are worthy of being discussed, due to the strength of their songs on their EP released back in 2008.
The current lineup is Patrick “Paddy” Schefano on vocals, Brandon Henderson on lead guitar, Joel Bailey on drums, Jeremy Folse on rhythm guitar and Matthew Stagner on bass guitar.
They have been called Metalcore, but this is a label that hangs somewhat uneasily around their neck. The EP fills your speakers with a joyous celebration of heavy, but very melodic, music. They are Christian rockers, but their humanity speaks to those casual listeners who do not follow any belief-driven genre.
The EP contains six songs of a quality that stands the test of time. The songs have an accessibility that transcends the genre and places more of a foot in the pop punk movement of the 1990’s. Yes, they have some screaming vocals, especially on “To The Service”, but that song also has passages which sound like New Wave bands and background harmonies that really make it a hymn in many ways.
The interesting part of this story will be whether the band will reconvene and work on any new material. It would be a shame to leave their sizeable fanbase without any new tunes (they have over 6,000 likes on Facebook still). The latest gigs appear to have been in the summer last year. Therefore, this is an artist spotlight that only feels half fulfilled.
Great band – catch a listen and then get talking to them on Facebook, if you want them back.
There will always be heart in music. There will always be power in music. There will always be thought in music. Combine them together and you get The Human Project. The group are a melodic, but technical, punk band from Leeds in the UK. Their debut album ‘Origins’ was issued in 2013, and the long awaited follow-up ‘Clarion Call’ will be released in 2018, accompanied by touring across the UK, Europe, and Japan.
The band paint on a political canvas and nail their colors to the mast with songs about the cutting of public services in the UK and the vote to leave the European Union (Brexit), both of which they argue against.
The band released the very catchy “That One Percent” in advance of the album. Expaining what it means, vocalist/guitarist Luke Yates comments, “the everyday, on-the-ground results of the austerity regime are this kind of bland injustice, laughably obvious in the way it is targeted, and, in the way it is backed up and spread by people with vested interests in the media, but unfortunately inescapable for most ordinary people.”
‘Clarion Call’ took over five years to write and was eventually brought to life by producer Andy Hawkins.
To nail my colors to the mast, this album is a monster of epic proportions and is likely to be in my top ten of the year. In true Frankenstein tradition, it is built on sounds and thoughts taken from many genres, but has been pieced together with real care and attention. Where the record differs from Mary Shelley’s creation is that the monster did not know why it had been created. Here, The Human Project know why they created the album and the vision they have is second to none.
The album’s box of secrets is wrenched open with the thoughtful lament of “Desperate Times.” There is soft piano and clean guitar, as the fabulous vocals kick in. The singing is a key(sic) to the record and raises it above any other release in the pop punk genre. I am afraid I don’t know who sings what, as all the members take vocal duties, but all do brilliantly. It is like fusing progressive rock harmonies to fast ascending punk riffing. The whole collection reeks of class (ironically, given the band’s championing of equality).
My ears were drawn to “That One Percent,” which spits out the band’s disdain for the Conservative political party’s behaviour in the UK with their policy of austerity in terms of public spending being cut. It is a tune that lives long in the memory and, once inside your brain, keeps looping as a mega ear worm – you have been warned!
“Knocked For Six” smacks your sensibilities with aural overload. The high register vocals absolutely make this song. It has a sound that is arrestingly unique and familiar at the same time. The guitar tone is also a pleasure to hear; fuzzbox in 4K for sure.
Although the ball of wax moves at a million miles an hour, there are some moments of quieter reflection, like on “Carrion,” allowing listeners to breathe before the technical beauty of “What We Always Do” comes striding onto the playlist and the adrenaline surge runs us to the end of the collection.
Suffice to say, I love this album so much that I would marry it, if I could. Human in name, gods in musical terms. The best album I have heard for a long time.