Gretchen

About Gretchen

I live for breakdowns, I'm stuck in the heyday of metalcore. Symphonic, progressive, and when I need to dumb it down... 80's glam. Will crowdsurf for beer.

VALLEYS Move On From Tragedy, Sign To New Label & Release New Single!

Going into 2016, VALLEYS were in full gear to write, record, and put out their debut album. A moment these gentlemen have been dreaming about all along. Unfortunately, nothing could have prepared them for the unbelievable loss that was so heinously thrown at them. Continue reading

Review: KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – ‘Atonement’ [Song Stream]

 

If you’ve not heard of Killswitch Engage by now, number one: you are severely missing out on some of the best music out there, and number two: you definitely live under a rock. Killswitch has been releasing perfect album after album since 1999; they hail from Massachusetts. They are credited as one of the most successful bands from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement. They have continued to headline international tours and have massive festival appearances. “Atonement” will be their eight LP and the follow-up to the masterpiece, “Incarnate” from 2016. The aforementioned album will be their very first release via Metal Blade Records on August 16. Killswitch Engage is metalcore perfection. If it is not already obvious, KSE is one of my all time favorite bands and I may or may not have shed a tear whilst at their shows. 

As it should, “Atonement” begins with a roar- it really does! “Unleashed” is the opening track and the first single the band shared. The first thing that many Killswitch fans will recognize is how flawless singer, Jesse Leach’s vocals sound. Many know that he underwent vocal surgery last spring, and to say he’s made a recovery is an understatement. Perhaps some of his strongest recorded performances yet are found on the new album. “Unleashed” doesn’t particularly stray too far from the tried and true Killswitch Engage formula, but that’s okay because they do it so goddamn well. The song has a verse that sticks and a chorus that ends with a sick breakdown. What more could you need?

The second track is something that many KSE followers have dreamed about for years and it has finally happened. Jesse Leach and the band’s former frontman, Howard Jones (who should need no introduction at all, but it anyone was wondering, he currently fronts Light the Torch) on one song together. This, I believe, will solve all the worlds’ problems. “The Signal Fire” comes in hot, with a deathcore introduction and it’s thrashy in your face feel. The chorus is a total earworm with such conviction. Jesse and Howard together is every girls dream… or maybe it’s just mine? Regardless, these two sound perfect and this is a standout track. 

“The Crownless King,” is such a fist pumping pit starter. This one will go over extremely well live. A great mid tempo track with soaring vocals, “As Sure as the Sun Will Rise.” Of course it’s impossible to review “Atonement” without addressing the song with the first video from the record, “I Am Broken Too.” Leach has been very forthcoming with his personal struggles with mental health in past lyrics and this one is no acception. It’s stripped down and a little more simple and incredibly powerful. Killswitch Engage both on record and live, is a great balance. Songs like this one, and older tracks like “Arms of Sorrow” and “Rose of Sharyn” deal with heavy topics and then there are just some straight up bangers. The ever amusing guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz brings the comedic relief to their sets, dawning headbands that read, “TRASH” and spurting out lewd and insane remarks. Killswitch knows when it’s time to be serious and when it’s time to be Adam.  

Like every album before and like every album will be, “Atonement” is fantastic. Currently in first place for metalcore album of the year, curated by myself. It’s out August 16 on Metal Blade and currently up for preorder. A European tour is in order for the fall, but if you are in the states you can catch them (along with many others) at the first inaugural Exit 111 Festival in October, taking place in Tennessee. This record will not disappoint and if you haven’t seen Killswitch Engage live, you’re dead to me. 

 

State of the Art: Mississippi’s PARTHURNAX

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Mississippi.*

Parthurnax is born out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi although it might as well be out of the snow covered forests of Finland. Much like the origin, Parthurnax is a bit of a mystery. It is unclear who is behind the project. A bit of snooping gives credence to the fact is a solo project as Facebook posts use “I” in the available few. One thing that is certain however, is the fantastic instrumental music. Classic heavy metal riffs with hints of Scandinavian prog. Fans of Dragonforce, Wintersun, Eluveitie, etc. That very Eurocentric sound that goes over so well at Wacken. Continue reading

State of the Art: Oklahoma’s LOST EMPIRES [Tracks Streaming]

Since 2011, Lost Empires have been fusing together a new breed of metalcore straight out of Oklahoma City, OK. One could say, fantasy metalcore? A healthy blend of sharp and tight traditional riffs with a power metal element, the melody along with the synthesizers. This is really something cool.

The five piece consists of Kilby and Brad on guitars, drummer Jeremy, Luke on bass and Lawrence on vocals. “Death, the Unveiling of Eternity” EP was released in 2016. It’s like God Forbid and Blind Guardian are dating. It’s a fabulously unique metalcore EP. The standout track is undoubtedly “Standing at Death’s Door.” Song structure is interesting, catchy and elaborate. The power metal elements really stand out on this particular track. Some cleans throw in the background really compliment the growls. Another favorite, “Hameln” has the eerie synth magic happening with a really evil and driving riff over top. It’s just a solid track. Fans of mid-2000’s metalcore will certainly be interested in Lost Empires, and power metal fans that don’t mind more aggressive vocals.

The band is pretty quiet on their socials, but after a bit of poking around it seems as they are taking a break at the moment but have future plans to write new material. Their 2016 EP is available for streaming on Spotify. 

State of the Art: North Carolina’s AMERICAN EMPIRE [EP Stream]

 

Fans of old-school Epica and Within Temptation are going to lose their minds over North Carolina’s best kept secret; American Empire. North Carolina has bred some top notch metal over the years but nothing that sounds quite like this. With the exception of Kamelot, most North American symphonic metal bands just seem to be missing something. But think again, American Empire is packing some seriously fantastic Euro-sounding metal down in Durham.  Continue reading

Album Review : FLUB – Self Titled [Single Streaming]

Heavy on the arpeggios, heavy on the footwork and heavy on the “bree’s,” FLUB is about to take you on an extraordinary adventure. A modern take on tech-death by members of such prestigious bands as RIVERS OF NIHIL, ALTERBEAST alongside former members of VALE OF PNATH and THE USER LIVES. FLUB is set to release their self-titled record via The Artisan Era on June 7th.

Continue reading

State of the Art: MARSH OF SWANS [EP Stream]

*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Kansas.*

Black metal and a history lesson? Get your pencil and paper out, Marsh of Swans are about to school you in downtrodden riffage and local history. The black metal duo call Lawrence, Kansas home. They go by CJ and BC, sharing the writing and production duties. BC is the voice that is heard on the tracks and CJ does the drum work, however. Continue reading

State of the Art: Hawaii’s GORGOS

*This is part of our monthly State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Hawaii.*

Ever wonder what the soundtrack of mutilation might sound like? Pretty sure it’s Gorgos. Hailing from a beautiful place like Honolulu, Hawaii, yet they have no shortage of brutality. It’s death metal, it’s slam, a little bit of grind thrown in the mixer. What churns out is blood soaked and meaty riffs. This is carnivorous music. Continue reading

WHITESNAKE To Release 13th Album ‘Flesh & Blood’ This May [Single Streaming]

 

Since the late 1970’s Whitesnake has released a dozen albums and this year is gearing up to welcome another one. “Flesh & Blood” is set to unleash a thirteen new song on May 10, courtesy of Frontier Music Srl, an Italian based label on CD, LP, streaming and for digital purchase. Continue reading

Review: Kings Destroy – ‘Fantasma Nera’ [Single Streaming]

It’s old and it’s new, it’s funky but familiar, Kings Destroys’ pseudo stoner melodic rock harkens a fresh taste of experimental riffage with slow-mo head bobbing. New York City dwellers they are and a hotbed of artistic exploration they inhabit since their 2010 formation. Gracing the shelves March 8th, “Fantasma Nera” is the bands upcoming fourth LP through Svart Records, a Finnish based label that is home to Acid King. Continue reading