James Maddern

halestorm reanimate 3.0 covers ep

Halestorm – ReAniMate 3.0 The CoVeRs eP [EP]

The opening of Still of the Night proves yet again that Lzzy Hale’s voice was absolutely made for rock music. The Whitesnake classic has got a vocal verse with no real instrumentation that Hale has used to show off the grit in her voice, and the band breaking in with the hair metal-influenced hard rock proves their versatility while keeping their own style. Layered vocals and similar instrumental parts keep the sound close enough to the original to be easily recognisable, but there are subtle differences like guitar tones that make it sound very Halestorm. An interesting take on Sophie B Hawkins‘ Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover follows, which keeps its pop feel more than most of the ReAniMate series yet the distorted guitar and cymbal-heavy drums leave it with an expected rock touch to it too.

Joan Jett classic I Hate Myself For Loving You is third, which is kept perhaps the closest stylistically to the original with the female-fronted rock act holding a similar place in the market to Halestorm in the modern day. The tom/snare/clap beats are reminiscent of the original as are even the guitar tones, and the confidence of Lzzy soulfully over the top gives a real flashback. They’ve even managed to put more energy into Twenty One Pilots‘ smash hit Heathens from Suicide Squad. With no electronic sounds unlike the original, the track turns into a fairly slow rock powerhouse which is almost unrecognisable without the vocals. Penultimately, a cover of Soundgarden‘s Fell On Black Days plays out which by its original would be the least showy of the EP. This does prove to be so. While not disappointing, the track is very simple and would act perhaps as a better final track, though that was definitely saved for the best to go out with a blast.

The release then brings itself to a close with a rendition of Metallica hit Ride The Lightning which works fantastically. The solo is a thing of wonder and the chugging rhythm guitar coupled with bass and drums keeping the punching rhythm ticking over. Anyone that doubts Lzzy Hale before hearing this most certainly will not afterwards – her voice shines as the central powerhouse in the mix with left-right panned guitars and directional drums. The gruffness in her voice would challenge any male vocalist performing the track and her style on the lyrics just fits superbly. A fitting finish to a fantastic EP.

Overall, ReAniMate 3.0 shows again that Halestorm aren’t limited to putting their original style into their tracks to sound unlike any other band but that they can do it to other artists’ tracks too.

Homemade Aim Higher

Aim Higher – Homemade [EP]

The opening track of Homemade, titled Stain on Your Generation in true punk style, gives an instant flavour for the EP, which isn’t saying all that much as at 0:50 it is almost a quarter of the length of the 4 and a half minute EP. The styling sounds very much like 7 Seconds music-wise, which is perhaps unsurprising – the guitars are quick change power chords as would be expected, the drums play a generic quick hihat-heavy groove which pins under the vocals well. The downside however is the production; the mix sounds quiet and the vocals are higher in the mix than would be ideal for the style and it sounds rather messy in parts. Second track For A Reason furthers this with its speed, but the vocals have harmonies in the chorus (if you can call it that, it happens twice!) which don’t work too well and sound messy again. A good song as it goes, but it’s clear to hear it’s a DIY job…

Homemade, somewhat ironically maybe, is the best track in terms of production and therefore overall. All of the tracks are solid musically, though second mix of them would improve them greatly! Dual vocals appear in this track, with more punky vocals with less attention paid to tuning of the lines. Closing track Mouth of a Stranger tells of “brighter days ahead” in a quick, roots punk track that doesn’t stop the momentum of the EP at all.

Overall, the release shows a real potential for the project and Seconds will gain traction with it. What the project lacks in production should be made up with fans by putting his name on it and the momentum hopefully will produce more of this songwriting that has drawn everyone to 7 Seconds all these years.

Fearless Records

Fearless Records confirm tours, albums

The time of year has come for Fearless Records to release their latest instalment in the annual “Coming in” series for the new year.

The announcement includes new albums from Volumes, Mayday Parade, Wage War and August Burns Red as well as the new As It Is release (read our review here) and tour plans for bands including Real FriendsTonight Aliveblessthefall and our friends in I Prevail. This year sure does look to be Fearless.

Check out the label’s site here and see the video below:

Okay. As It Is

As It Is – Okay.

Okay. opens with the second track released from the era in the shape of Pretty Little Distance. Its video set out the first filmed interpretation of the style with swing dancers dressed in 50s outfits and the song somehow holds some of that swing within its pop punk beats. The solo towards the end sounds like it is taken straight from a rock & roll track in the period. Fast, tom-heavy drum verse parts fuel the emotive lyrics throughout and the layering of vocals allows for a fuller, more whole sound.

This is followed up with lead single Okay. which gave fans the first taste of the era pre-release. The song features a soaring chorus with a slightly more punchy verse that gives a fuller flavour of the album that contrasts nicely with Pretty Little Distance. The lyrics here are deeper than the previous track as Patty admits how he’s “felt a year’s worth of hurt and sadness catching up” and clearly felt brutally low while turning this track from words on a page to a stage-filler as it has turned out.

One of the standout songs is Hey Rachel, which is written as an apology to one of the sisters of the members of the band (presumably with a name change). The piece has one of the best choruses and emotive lyrics apologising for not being there when she needed someone, admitting faults of being “selfish and stubborn” and “a terrible brother”. The whole song feels like it is in some kind of desperation to close a guilt and move forward in the relationship.

The album closes on a strong sentiment with penultimate track The Coast Is Where Home Is provides a sentimental look back at the roots of As It Is on the UK’s south coast which has provided so many new bands with a shot at the big leagues in recent months and years. This being followed by Still Remembering creates closure for the album. It acts as the slowest-tempo song on the record which asks whether it is “remembering, still remembering or forgetting” in terms of happy memories.

Overall, a step up from anything As It Is have released before. If anything, a whole album viewing of Okay. seems like the natural progression from the EPs before Never Happy, Ever After in the styling of a more centre-spectrum rather than the debut’s more pop-end style. A very good release that sees the band hit their stride more confidently than ever.

Preorder the album here or here on iTunes.

Austin Carlile Of Mice & Men

Austin Carlile leaves Of Mice & Men

Of Mice & Men frontman Austin Carlile has left the band following advice from medical professionals. The announcement comes after he became too sick to continue with the European tour supporting their latest album Cold World.

Carlile has suffered his whole life with Marfan’s Syndrome – a condition which affects connective tissue throughout the body.

See the statement below:

Carlile has subsequently indicated that this isn’t him out of the game though, with a tweet seeming to confirm he will be involved with another project in 2017:

Albums 2016

Musicology: Our Team’s Top Albums of 2016

It’s come to that time of year again when we’re thinking about our top dogs of 2016, so here are the Musicology team’s top albums of the year (yes, there are quite a few repeats which show how good some of them are!).

Joshua Palmer – Writer

1) RenouncedTheories Of Despair
2) ExpireWith Regret
3) CaseyLove Is Not Enough
4) Angel Du$tRock The Fuck On Forever
5) Like PacificDistant Like You Asked
6) Silent PlanetEverything Was Sound
7) Cruel HandYour World Won’t Listen
8) Church TongueHeart Failure
9) DeparturesDeath Touches Us, From The Moment We Begin To Live
10) Hotel BooksRun Wild, Stay Alive

Sam Preece – Writer

1) Waterparks – Double Dare
2) Simple PlanTaking One For The Team 
3) Sia – This Is Acting
4) Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
5) A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations
6) Cane Hill – Smile

Tom Martin – Writer/Editor

1) Boston Manor – Be Nothing.
2) Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
3) Trophy EyesChemical Miracle
4) ColumbusSpring Forever
5) Trash BoatNothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through
6) BasementPromise Everything
7) Knocked LooseLaugh Tracks
8) letlive.If I’m The Devil…
9) Luke RainsfordI’m Nothing Like My Dad Turned Out To Be
10) Touche AmoreStage Four

Fiona Stephens – Writer

1) Blackberry SmokeLike An Arrow
2) The Pretty RecklessWho You Selling For
3) Green DayRevolution Radio
4) Lucid FlyBuilding Castles In The Air
5) Circle Of DustMachines Of Our Disgrace

Nathan Heffernan – Photographer

1) Knocked LooseLaugh Tracks
2) Luke RainsfordI’m Nothing Like My Dad Turned Out To Be
3) NOFXFirst Ditch Effort
4) Trash BoatNothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through
5) Boston ManorBe Nothing.
6) CaseyLove Is Not Enough
7) BasementPromise Everything
8) blink-182California
9) Tiny Moving PartsCelebrate
10) GiantsBreak The Cycle

James Leese – Writer

1) TotorroCome To Mexico
2) The 1975I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
3) The HotelierGoodness
4) Tiny Moving PartsCelebrate
5) Childish GambinoAwaken My Love
6) Slaughter Beach, DogWelcome
7) Modern BaseballHoly Ghost
8) BadBadNotGood IV
9) Old GraySlow Burn
10) Luke RainsfordI’m Nothing Like My Dad Turned Out To Be

Jade Falconer – Photographer/Site Supervisor

1) Bring Me The HorizonLive At Royal Albert Hall
2) Hands Like HousesDissonants
3) Asking Alexandria – The Black
4) Panic! At The Disco – Death of a Bachelor
5) The Amity Affliction – This Could Be Heartbreak
6) Issues – Headspace

Luke Davies – Web Developer

1) Issues – Headspace
2) Memphis May Fire – This Light I Hold

Bradley Cassidy – Writer

1) Gojira – Magma
2) The Dillinger Escape PlanDissociation
3) BrujeriaPocho Azitan
4) Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us
5) KoRn – The Serenity Of Suffering
6) Metallica Hardwired … To Self Destruct
7) Abbath Abbath
8) Ihsahn Arktia
9) Rob ZombieThe Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
10)  KvelertakNatterfed

Eddie Sims – Writer

1) Touche Amore – Stage Four
2) Napoleon – Newborn Mind
3) Trade Wind – You Make Everything Disappear
4) Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional
5) Broken Teeth – At Peace Amongst Chaos
6) Knocked Loose – Laugh Tracks
7) Heck – Instructions
8) Killswitch Engage – Incarnation
9) Desolated – The End
10) Forty Winters Rotting Empire

James Maddern – Writer

1) With ConfidenceBetter Weather
 2) WaterparksDouble Dare
3) Hands Like HousesDissonants
4) Sum 4113 Voices
5) A Loss For Words – Crises
6) I PrevailLifelines
7) Moose BloodBlush
8) Milk TeethVile Child
9) This Wild Life – Low Tides
10) Luke RainsfordI’m Nothing Like My Dad Turned Out To Be

 Daniel Curzon – Editor

1) Knocked LooseLaugh Tracks
2) Broken TeethAt Peace Amongst Chaos
3) ExpireWith Regret
4) Guilt TripWeight of Abjection
5) Trophy EyesChemical Miracle
6) DesolatedThe End
7) SkeptaKonnichiwa
8) Cold Hard TruthTruthgetta
9) Craig DavidFollowing My Intuition
10) Trash BoatNothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through

Royal Blood

Royal Blood to return in 2017?

It seems the dynamic duo Royal Blood could be making a landmark return next year, if their teasing tweet is anything to go by.

The band’s debut self-titled album was released back in 2014 and debuted at #1 in the UK chart, subsequently being labelled platinum in the UK and gold in Canada among others.

The tweet included a video of someone getting a tattoo of the year ‘2017’ on their arm, with a track that sounds very Royal Blood-esque playing on top…

Better Than Never Head Under Water EP

Better Than Never: ‘Head Under Water’ EP Studio Diary

Vocalist James Harris says of the recently released record: “Head Under Water covers the idea of how dealing with depression and anxiety can sometimes just feel like you are drowning in a sea of hopelessness, the ball and chain in the imagery showing how you can feel chained down by those struggles and anchored at rock bottom.” Better Than Never decided to take maximum advantage of their girthy line-up during the writing process, the members sitting down as a group and working together on every track for several months, trying to perfect every aspect. The result is an EP jam-packed with hard-hitting layers: the dual vocalists are used to maximal effect, triple stacked guitars cleverly interplay and the lyrical content delivers a punch to the feels. With the EP now out, the band are pleased to give you further insight into the writing and recording process …

“We dedicated hundreds of hours into demos before we went into the studio. Sat in mine and Jim’s living room where James’ computer seemed to have gone from temporarily living to a much more permanent fixture. Me and James had spent the past 6 months writing and demoing new ideas before we got the whole band involved as we knew recording was imminent. It felt like every night an assortment of the band were round perfecting every second of the song, writing on the demos and ordering countless Chinese takeaways. We actually named the first track of the record 126 after the house number where we spent all that time together hanging out and writing.Our first aim when recording our second EP was to avoid the mistakes we made the first time around. We don’t regret our first EP on any level but it taught us so much about the best way to go about things for ourselves and how to make the process as natural as possible.

‘When it came to recording the full EP we had producers and studios floating around in our heads, but it was fairly clear from the onset we wanted to record with Ian Sadler at Emeline Studios down by the seaside in Whitstable. His work with ROAM sold us straight away before even getting onto the countless other talented bands he’d worked with. Recording with Ian was unlike anything else we’d experienced in the past. He was meticulous and wanted every single note to be perfect, it felt like he cared as much as we did about how well this record turned out.”

“The first night of recording we decided to stay in a little campsite just a few minutes walk from the studio. Don’t ask me how this came about, it might have been my idea but how we found ourselves in a tent on that first windy night and not a hotel was beyond me. I didn’t have the worst time, despite the tent collapsing on my head at some point in the early hours of the morning, but I couldn’t say the same for the rest of the boys. We were spending £50 a night for an empty field and shower block – so when Ian regrettably offered us to just sleep in his studio the decision was made.

‘Ian’s studio is well equipped and state of the art so I’m not trying to subtract from its value when I point out it didn’t have a shower (why would it, most bands would just stay in a hotel). We tried to offer the campsite owner a little hush money so we could stop by every other morning and have a quick shower but he wasn’t biting. Obviously this left us no choice but to break in at midnight and use the showers anyway (we did try to pay).

‘All the recording went surprisingly smoothly. I felt bad for James, he had been paranoid all week that he would get ill and wouldn’t be able to record his vocals. He had spent the whole week refusing to share food and drink with us, I was surprised he allowed himself to use the same bathroom as us! When it came to his day to record, the boy drank so much water that he couldn’t stop himself weeing. I swear I must have seen him drink about 15 bottles of water in the space of a few hours and it resulted in him having to take loo breaks in-between literally every two or three takes. By the end he was just weeing out pure water (sorry if that’s too graphic, if not I’ve attached an image of just how clear it was).Overall we were extremely happy with the way the EP turned out. Ian made it sound so much better than we ever could have imagined and were so happy that we could finally share it with everyone and we hope you like it as much as we do.”

Read our review of the EP here.

wstr lonely smiles

WSTR take us behind the scenes of ‘Lonely Smiles’

Liverpudlian pop-punk quartet, WSTR, are set to release their debut album Red, Green Or Inbetween, on 20th January via No Sleep Records. Vocalist Sammy Clifford says of where they found inspiration for song writing and their album title: “This album is mainly a breakup album however it’s not a ‘fuck you’ album it’s more a ‘mad at myself’ album. It’s all about kicking myself for not stepping up when I had the chance and coasting through life making bad decisions.” Completed by guitarists Danny Swift and Kieren Alder and bassist Alex Tobijanski, the quartet grew up on the ‘original’ mainstream pop punk bands, like Blink-182, New Found Glory and Sum 41, and they make no bones about being the product of their influences. The first track to be released from the record was Lonely Smiles, which Alder is pleased to give us a behind the scenes insight into…

We chose to release Lonely Smiles first because we felt it has everything a pop punk song calls for! Admittedly we were a little hesitant that the lyrical nature of the song would make it a bit of a weird choice and that’s part of why we went for a contrasting vibe with the video. We didn’t want it to come across too dark, so to lighten the mood and bring some positivity into the current climate, we asked our fans to submit a short video of themselves answering the question ‘What makes you smile?’. There we so many submissions, I think it was almost 100 from all over the world! It was fun looking through them all, so thank you if you sent one in!

The performance part of the video was shot at The Laundry Studios in Colwyn Bay. It was the middle of summer and I don’t think we could have chosen a warmer day to film. There were fans we could have used in the room but because we chose to put balloons up we couldn’t use them or we’d have ended up with balloons flying all over the set. Jumping around doing the same thing for about two hours in that room was almost unbearable. Just to top if off, the last shot of the day we were going for a totally original group jump shot. We’re all totally useless so couldn’t get the timing right and when we finally did, I came down and rolled my ankle so hard. That was me done for the day, I genuinely thought I’d broken it.

See the video in question below:

Mikko Joensuu Amen 2

Mikko Joensuu – Amen 2

Right from the opening of first track Drop Me Down, it is obvious that Amen 2 will be atmospheric and incredibly emotional. On the first Amen album, Joensuu set himself the limit of “only using acoustic instruments and to keep everything restrained up to a point” yet on this second collection he hold back absolutely nothing as he explores what it means to question one’s religion and surroundings. The lyric “Oh God won’t drop me down” recurs throughout the song, which brings to light the hope he held at the beginning before the subsequent downfall of his faith. The whole album is Joensuu’s quest to accept that a deity does not exist in his mind anymore, and this track sums it up perfectly.

In contrast to the emotional and quiet pieces that dominate the beginning of the album, tracks like There Used To Be Darkness make the album seem a lot more positive as Joensuu has clearly found where he wants to be and move on. The title’s positivity rings true throughout with a strong bassline and more upbeat synthesiser sounds throughout that bring a sense of reconciliation and understanding to the confused narrative at the start of the release. The choral sounds at the end are spine-chilling to bring to a close the colossal 11-minute track. This song is the epic that will define this album’s popularity with Mikko’s fans.

The closing track I Gave You All is a predominantly instrumental piece stainding at 20 minutes in length, but the lyrics speaking of the burden Joensuu has finally managed to drop stand out in the song to bring the only slight sense of closure to the album. It leaves the trilogy open to however he wants to close it with Amen 3, and the ability to leave it so open-ended is both a blessing and a curse.

Overall, Joensuu’s Amen 2 follows up the first in the trilogy well while exploring his own dropping of faith. The emotion is clear without and the instrumentation is clean but taken as one album it seems to lack something. It is almost be a certainty that the collection will be an incredibly moving piece that is outstanding, but each of the first two collections seems to lack the closure that Amen 3 is destined to bring when that is finally released. Mikko has said “there’s a certain balance to be found between an overwhelming joy towards the beauty of life and living, and not really knowing if the mind will collapse into the abyss again” – a quote which describes the emotive side of the album better than perhaps anything else.