Review: DOWNTREND – ‘4’ EP [Lyric Video]

Downtrend formed in 2004 and has went through a few lineup changes since then. The band retains founding members Josh Crum and Jeremy Chaney. Long time member drummer J.D. Hall takes his seat behind the drum kit adding his style and showmanship to the band. Hall and Chaney were also formerly bandmates in the crushingly heavy group Voices Of Aggression. The chemistry among these three gents is amazing, which can be heard in their music and seen live when they take the stage. Mike Jackson has been the voice of the band for over a decade, after a brief departure from the band he has returned to his home behind the microphone. In the bands 10+ years their sound has changed and progressed but the biggest thing about the band is the heart and passion they have for music. Continue reading

Review: TOOL – ‘Fear Inoculum’ [Song Stream]

Finally, the time has arrived. After a 13-year gap since the last album, ‘10,000 Days,’ the almighty Tool have returned with their 5th full-length release entitled ‘Fear Inoculum.’ With all the hype surrounding the record over the last several weeks and months, the pressure to deliver something monumental is in full force. Teasers, clues, and seemingly insurmountable expectations of what the prog metal veterans will unveil have been buzzing across social media and dominating music news as of late. Front man Maynard James Keenan has been doing his best to fan the flames of anticipation on his own, particularly via his personal Twitter account where he kept followers updated during key steps of the recording progress as they unfolded, and at one point even helped stir a short-lived beef with Justin Bieber’s wife during some classic, tongue-in-cheek, MJK humor. He also recently made his third appearance on the highly popular Joe Rogan Experience Podcast to officially unveil the ‘Fear Inoculum’ album title and to announce that Tool will finally be entering the digital streaming age by releasing their entire back catalog to all major platforms. Like ravenous wolves, the fan response resulted in record-breaking download numbers, landing all four of the band’s previous albums in the top five of Billboard’s Top Rock Albums simultaneously. Similarly, upon release of the band’s first single and title track, “Fear Inoculum,” Tool became the first artist to have a 10-minute song reach the Billboard Hot 100. To say the new album from Tool is highly-anticipated is a massive understatement. ‘Fear Inoculum’ is unquestionably one of the most anticipated album releases of the past 13 years in rock music. Continue reading

Review: WAGE WAR – ‘Pressure’ [Official Videos]

Wage War is back at it again with an album that is sure to be an absolute banger! The band started it’s life in Ocala, Florida with its founding members Briton Bond, Cody Quistad, Seth Blake, Jordan Pierce, and David Rau. Later on swapping the lineup on drums and bass, Stephen Kluesener and Chris Gaylord were added to the mix. They are best described as melodic metalcore. They have some absolutely bouncy riffs but also have smooth clean chorus lines. In the beginning, the band released an EP titled ‘The Fall of Kings.’ Following this, in 2015 they dropped their debut album via Fearless Records; ‘Blueprints.’ This consisted of singles such as “Twenty One,” “Alive,” and “Youngbloods.” Two years later their second album, ‘Deadweight’ dropped with the fan singles being “Stitch,” “Don’t Let Me Fade Away,” and “Witness.” One notable favorite of mine was “Gravity.” This was my introduction to Wage War and the culprit of many, many repeat listens of the ‘Deadweight’ album. This all lead to the unbearable wait for new content when alas, their first new single “Low” released from their newest upcoming album ‘Pressure.’ This album is set to release August 30th, 2019 on Fearless Records. You see a diamond on the album art and pressure helps create diamonds, and that’s exactly what Wage War has created here. Continue reading

Review: PALE GREY LORE – ‘Eschatology’ [Album Stream]

According to their promo materials, Columbus Ohio’s Pale Grey Lorecreate focused, hook-driven heavy rock and roll that loses no edge for its focus on songwriting. Melodic vocals and subtle harmonies echo alongside the molten groove of the guitar, bass and drums, taking a time-tested formula and proving it indeed to be timeless.

Pale Grey Lore began as a collaboration between brothers Michael (guitar, vocals) and Adam Miller (drums), with Donovan Johnson (bass) joining up in the summer of 2014. Xander Roseberry (guitar, backing vocals) was added to the lineup in the winter of 2016.

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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. 

 

Review: ENTOMBED A.D. – ‘Bowels of Earth’ [Video Stream]

Entombed A.D. – the band who rose from the ashes of Swedish death metal legends, Entombed, in 2014 – return with their third studio album, ‘Bowels of Earth.’ Set to release on August 30th, 2019 via Century Media Records, ‘Bowels of Earth’ continues the tradition of groove-laden death metal that defined the Swedish scene back in the 90s. With buzzsaw guitars chugging out string tension-defying, ultra-downtuned riffage, and the monstrous growls of vocal veteran LG Petrov – along with Victor Brandt (bass), Nico Elgstrand (guitar), and Olle Dahlstedt (drums) – Entombed A.D. are keeping the spirit of death n’ roll alive and devastating in 2019. Continue reading

Review: Mammoth Storm – ‘Alruna’ [Album Stream]

Mammoth Storm was formed in Sweden at the end of 2012 for the sole purpose of “delivering some heavy riffs in the name of doom”. With the release of their 2015 debut ‘Fornjot’ the Swedish Doom Metal band exploded onto the scene! With thick grooves and gargantuan riffs they are by far one of the most exciting bands in the metal scene. On their newest album ‘Alruna’ (which is released via Argonauta Records) the band have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with! Continue reading

Review: SKILLET – ‘Victorious’ [Track Stream]

Skillet is a Christian rock band that has been around ever since I can remember. They formed in 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee. For members, the current lineup consists of John Cooper (Frontman and Bassist), Korey Cooper (Rhythm Guitar, Keyboard, and Backing Vocals), Jen Ledger (Drums, Vocals), and Seth Morrison (Lead Guitar). Together, they have a chemistry unmatched by anyone. Continue reading

Review: WOLVES AT THE GATE – ‘Eclipse’ [Album Stream]

Cedarville, Ohio is the birthplace of Wolves At The Gate. The five piece post-hardcore band have been known to balance the beauty of melody with the barbaric bite of riffs so heavy they make gravity seems weak.  ‘Eclipse’ is their fourth full length outing and is a thoughtful slice of melodic Metalcore.  I must confess, I had never heard any of their catalogue before ‘Eclipse’, but was pleasantly surprised by quality of musicianship, the strength of the songs and the production.

Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Cobucci says of the album: “We named the record ‘Eclipse’ because of how well it encapsulated the relationship the light and the dark can have. An eclipse tells you that it’s dark,but it takes truth and faith to know that the sun is still shining. All of this revolves around my walk of faith in believing the truths of the gospel message, seeking to help others find hope and peace in the love of God, as well as how to come to grips with various social/political/personal issues.

Alongside Cobucci is Ben Summers(bass), Abishai Collingsworth(drums), Nick Detty(vocals), and the band’s newest member Joey Alarcon(who co-produced with Cobucci).

The album ‘Eclipse’ follows the development path of other metalcore bands, with more clean singing and a studious dedication to melody.  This is none better demonstrated than by final song “Blessings & Curses.”  This pushes toward pop music, but with more power.

The music washes over you in waves of adrenaline and (weirdly) stillness.  It pushes you into a widescreen version of reality, where everything is epic but slowed down.  The sound makes you reflect and there is a sombre mood to the art.  Peaceful waters are moved to areas of sonic perfection, only to be brought back to life by banging songs such as my favorite, “Counterfeit” – there is nothing counterfeit about this band!  They know how to bring emotion to the boil and let it simmer on a flame of pure metal.

Epic songs?  There are more than a few on this banger.  The title track demonstrates this perfectly.  Cobucci sings like some angel and the tune is filled out with keyboards and harmonies.

Kicking songs? “Evil Are The Kings” is a great stomper, with a more old-school metalcore vibe and nice use of growling vocals.

The whole record brims with intent to be tuneful, thoughtful and emotional whilst retaining some brutal riffing.  Check it out.

Review: DRIVETRAIN – ‘Muscles Big’ [Album Stream]

The 70s and 80s were both staple decades in the evolution of rock that most consider as the “classic” era for rock bands. Killer riffs and heavy drums are what made the music, and Portland, Maine’s Drivetrain are continuing those great characteristics that made the 70s and 80s rock. Since forming the group in 2012, Drivetrain has decided to unleash their killer debut album, ‘Muscles Big.’ Taking inspiration on the traditional aspects of loud cars and even louder rock, this debut is one of my favorite first albums from a band. With Kevin Beling handling vocals and rhythm guitar, Alex Fabish beating the hell out of the drums, Butch Fabish tackling lead guitar duties, and Ben Philbrick on the thunderous bass, they have released this mayhem on January 21, 2019. Continue reading