State Of The Art: West Virginia’s ROZWELL KID

*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”

Rozwell Kid 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

State Of The Art: Indiana’s OUTLAWS & MOONSHINE

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

Southern Rock from Indiana. The good ‘ole Outlaws & Moonshine boys are out to drink your booze and steal your musical soul.  Soul is what they have in spades. Continue reading

Album Review : GRAVEYARD – Peace [Album Stream]

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.

www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial

State Of The Art: I AM TERRIFIED [Album Stream]

*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.

Album Review: THE HUMAN PROJECT – ‘Clarion Call’ [Album Stream]

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.

‘Clarion Call’ will be released on CD, Digital and Vinyl on Friday 6th July 2018 and is available for pre-order now here: www.thehumanproject.bigcartel.com.

THE HUMAN PROJECT online:
www.twitter.com/humanprojectuk

https://thehumanproject.bigcartel.com/

Album Review: DEAD CROSS – Dead Cross (Ipecac Recordings)

Dead Cross are an American hardcore/progressive metal group, formed in Southern California. The band consists of guitarist Mike Crain (Retox), bassist Justin Pearson (the Locust, Head Wound City and Retox), drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer and Fantômas) and vocalist Mike Patton (currently of Faith No More and Fantômas).  They released their debut album in August 2017 and then, seemingly out of nowhere, released released a further self-titled EP containing two new songs and two remixes from their previous album.

Their sound is sophistocated, yet brutal.  They are not what would be expected of a hardcore-based outfit and that is Mike Patton’s calling card.  While others dare not progress, Patton constantly wants to evolve and grow.  His voice is as varied on Dead Cross songs as any of his other projects, whether it be snarling, screaming or singing, it is still his very own.  The signature drumming of Lombardo also is very prominent and complements the ferocious guitar work of Crain and the understated bass of Pearson.

The E.P. is four songs of pure adrenaline, being pumped into the black heart of society.  There are two new songs, “Skin Of A Redneck” and “My Perfect Prisoner“.  Both of these are bangers, with a blunt trauma sound that stabs at you without mercy.  There is anger here, directed at the whole world.  It is like a two punch being delivered in the first moments of a boxing match.  The blood is still dripping from your face, whilst the champion is dropping you onto the canvas.

The second part of the E.P. is where the band get experimental.  They take two songs from their album and let the remixing re-imagine the sound.

Shillelagh – Panicker Remix” is an EDM hardcore fusion, with multiple keyboards, beeps and electronica.   It completely changes the tone from the original hardcore ripper that appeared on the debut.  It works superbly well, as it takes the cadaver and fills it with new sonics.  This is probably my favorite track on this E.P.

The final song is “Church of the Motherf*ckers – Planet B Remix” and this is a more restrained remix, but keeps the electronica elements to fill out the sound.  Patton explores every element of his voice on this, whilst Lombardo is strangely muted until the blast beat fills, augmented by drum machines.  A brave song, for sure.

The E.P. is a finely crafted exercise in keeping fans connected to the band whilst they start to tour.  It is a worthwhile addition to their catalogue and shows progression.

State Of The Art: SPACE CADAVER [Album + Video Stream]

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

This month’s state is Louisiana!

New Orleans’ Space Cadaver are a band that have fury and finesse, with a groove that stomps all over their songs. They have a sci-fi style and power to match the best in the universe. Guitarist/vocalist John Baleine, bassist Beto Arias and drummer Jason Meserole bring dark and light in equal measure.  Formed in 2015, Space Cadaver have shared the stage with heavyweights such as Conan, Acid King and Ufomammut. Their message of spacey doom is spreading quickly!

Their debut self-titled album has been available since 2017.  Guitarist/vocalist Baleine commented that “this album is a benchmark of 3 years of hard work and determination – an opportunity to grow…and have closure with a lot of dark things… It was a cleanse to purge the pent up frustrations around the suicide and murders of loved ones, drug addiction and the struggle to break free from the things that are no longer serving me.

Space Cadaver have a sound that melds Death, Doom and Stoner in a rock hard package. Their self-titled debut album is a tour de force of genre-defying metal. They may only have a bass, guitar and drums to work from, but they know how to work that to make an amazing cinematic sound that sonically destroys everything in the mainstream metal world.

The album kicks off with the riffy ‘The Infinite Black Sun‘.  This sets the band’s stall out, with Baleine’s growling vocals and thoughtful lyrics.  The sound that a three piece make is genuinely impressive.  The bass is high in the mix and the drums splatter through the fuzz storm of guitar.  There are light passages that bring the sound into a different sphere and the dark parts take you to a back alley and mug you.

The guitar dominates “Day Ruiner“, as the groove is augmented by a superb guitar solo that is full of heart and power.  “Storm” follows with the sound of hell coming out to play.  A grunge-type melody lends the song a spirit that cannot be dismissed easily.

Insufficient Reward” is a masterpiece in cinematic metal.  It ebbs and flows with an approach that composers of movie scores love.  I can imagine a video of someone escaping evil forces, running down dark corridors in space.  The drumming is superb on this tune.

The commercially accessible “Clock Hoarder” continues with its fantastic bass/guitar interplay. It also manages to tip its hat to old school thrash.  “Nowhere, Now Here” continues the album with a progressive, minor key insurgency. Once again, a cinematic sound, focusing on a picture in space of desolation and regret.

The closing two numbers, “Sword of the Lord” and “Draco’s Revenge” are urgent, epic sound songs that veer from blast beats to progressive jazz in the space of minutes.

Overall, Space Cadaver are a band that everyone should check out, before they check out (in space, naturally).

Album Review: OVERKILL – ‘Live In Overhausen’ (Nuclear Blast)

OVERKILL are a legendary thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist D. D. Verni and lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth as the only constant members. OVERKILL‘s current lineup also includes Dave Linsk on lead guitar, Derek Tailer on rhythm guitar and Jason Bittner on drums.

The band are masters of the crunchy thrash that the 1980’s spawned.  They eat and drink metal music and Blitz is a renowned singer within the genre, being one of the godfathers of thrash, along with James Hetfield of METALLICA and Chuck Billy of TESTAMENT.  They have a significant library of studio albums (nineteen in total), including the stone cold classics ‘Under The Influence’ (1988) and ‘Horrorscope’ (1999). Continue reading