There’s often a stigma associated with metalheads that their preference is an immovable object, and that there’s no unstoppable force that can make their taste shift. “It’s not about selling out and making money, it’s about the music, man”, they say, probably. The truth is, there comes a time when every artist, true CVLT metal or not, has to think about making money and selling albums. This is where we find Machine Head in 2018, seeking what is perhaps more of a mass market appeal. Catharsis is the ninth album by the thrash/groove metal crossover act from California, and it sees ringleader Robb Flynn trying something a little different.
In a time where everything can seem contrite, to hear something break the mould is one of the most refreshing experiences to the listener. One of the best ways of doing this is to blend two genres together. Sometimes, the two will fuse together seamlessly and harmoniously, while other times, it sounds forced and comes across as some kind of musical Frankenstein’s Monster. Thankfully, we’re dealing with the former here.
The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are all famous decades of music. Modern music will always be indebted to these eras for influencing one obsessed musician and who in-turn influences another, and so on until that knock-on sequence shapes the artists we love today. These periods were star-studded and defined by the likes of Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Guns N’ Roses and Queens of the Stone Age. These are all of course heavy influences of Wakefield’s rejuvenated Rock N’ Rollers The Sourheads.
People well-versed with these eras may be able to pluck out these various influences on their debut album Care Plan For The Soul better than me. There’s a kinda ‘sleazy rock’ swagger-vibe to the vocals, a pelting punkiness to the verses, a fuzziness to the guitar which sounds straight out of the history books. There’s a fair bit going on but if I were to categorise this sound, I’d go for ‘Dad Rock’. It sounds like your old man has got the old band back together and they’re rehearsing in the garage.
Here’s the thing, The Sourheads: tambourines, whiskey singing, wah-wah pedals and the incessant amount of rock beat on this album are heralding and emblematic of another era altogether. It’s 2017 for crying out loud – very nearly 2018.
Nothing on this album attempts to bring some modern spark or injection to these older styles – that’s my biggest gripe. If you’d have taken this style and somehow fused it with something new, updated it in line with the digital market you’re catering to – yeah, I can get behind that. But you haven’t. You could have released this decades ago and nobody would have batted an eyelid (bar the obvious leap in technology). Nothing from opening track Demon made me want to listen to the following eight painfully long tracks – that’s an egregious, technical shortcoming in my view.
Anyway, I did persevere and so the album drones on, frustratingly, like an argument in an empty room, all this indeterminate rage really going nowhere from vocalist Jake Coxon. I’m not even going to try and separate the tracks because there’s very little making them distinguishable besides a sloppy off-beat in Secret Cigarette and a 12/8 time signature in Mad Dog – which also proffers an uncomfortable crescendo to the album. If I had to stretch myself to pick a favourite it would probably be Don’t Get Caught (I Am The Lotus) – like, it’s alright.
If you still love rocking out to music from 30 years ago: great, each to their own, this album is probably for you. I’m not saying there isn’t a niche for this: Christmas is coming up, maybe get it for your Dad’s glovebox collection. But if you like to keep on top of modern music, The Sourheads should be reserved for a Battle of the Bands tournament: [2/10]
Care Plan For The Soul is out now here.
After the drop of their debut record ‘Grow’ back in 2015, the band known as Chon have shown off how floaty, dreamy and downright technical their mostly instrumental music can get and will no doubt help their case for one of the most exciting bands of their genre. Now they have a new album upcoming titled ‘Homey’ which will no doubt show off more of their variability and skill that the band bring to the table.
Opening up with ‘Sleepy Tea’, you get a complete understanding of what the band was like if you haven’t listened to any of their music before. The clean and crisp guitars that play off each other superbly well with the quirky and upbeat speed of the drums that sound very strongly of jazz influences and start this record. The track switches up its speed towards the end and adds more to the bands variability in skill level. Moving into ‘Waterslide’, the intensity only picks up more and more with the chord changes and subtle nuances in their playing style. You slowly get to hear more and more flavours being introduced wether it be the use of some wah pedal, a little hint of bass or the moments where it sounds like they intentionally seem to play off key to help add to the dynamic of the track before the solo.
Throughout the album you get these remix elements from electronic artists placed around the record that act as a really nice showcase of different attributes. There are four tracks of this nature with the first taking the shape of ‘Berry Streets’, combining forces with GoYama to create this really dreamy, spliced number that goes all over the place with its simplicity before the electronics take the lead towards the end of the record and the tracks starts to build. The interesting uses of voices during the track make it sound like a floaty club banger in places. Moving into their next track with Lophiile, the vocals being brought to you by the other featured artist Masego and again breaks the album down again, blending elements of trap with jazz to create a really interesting fusion. Towards the second half of the album, Giraffage takes you on another flowing beauty with ‘Feel This Way’ and you get a more understanding of these style of tracks that aren’t here to overflow you with solos and technicality, but to bring something easy listening and incorporate different styles of drum patterns, electronic samples and become more of an easy listening experience. The same goes for their ROM track ‘Glitch’, which at times gives each artist a little split of personalities but they don’t overshadow each other and outdo each other to be a top priority and whilst the track might just suddenly end out of nowhere, these four tracks placed around the record add an amazing dynamic to the overall album and only heighten the intrigue.
The rest of the tracks are a sight to behold. Whether you go to the melodically charged ‘No Signal’ which uses a lot more of the harmony structure with both guitarists playing off one another to the mind-bending ‘Here And There’ which seems to go onto weird swing patterns for most of the song although there are moments where the chaos seems to seep through and take hold of you. The fact that the band don’t try and bash you over the head with low end heavy guitars or goes balls to the wall with singing string groove riffs is quite refreshing, as their tactic is more to soothe and caress your skin with much more melodic induced tracks, ‘The Space’ is another great example of this with the chord structure that do take hold for the backing part, but when the lead solos tend to shine through they don’t overflow and drown out anything else that is produced. The last track on the record ‘Wave Bounce’ is a perfect way to round out this stellar album with it feeling like a throwback to older material but always showing you where they are now in their stage of the career, going from fast paced riffs to chord structures in a matter of moments to help capture the essence of the record as well as the band.
What Chon have been able to provide for you is something unlike anything you will have heard before. The genre influences range so much from jazz to progressive to math in a way that they don’t bury you underneath and with the added electronic separations, it makes this album an amazingly paced masterpiece and one that will no doubt be a career highlight for them. They’ve set the bar extremely high for competitors and it will be a while before someone tops this.
After a lot of label issues and vocal member troubles, Volumes now seem to have made itself into a new family and been given a new home within Fearless Records to help showcase what groovetacular material the band can muster for you. Having already released two album thats are widely received positively throughout the progressive metal and djent community, it’s time to see how much weight ‘Different Animals’ has to this new beast.
The album opener ‘Waves Control’ immediately opens with a powerful tone coming from the guitars and showing off what you might have expected from the band from the get go. The heavier qualities are definitely par for the course with the lead guitar elements at points sadly drowning that out just before their new clean vocalist makes your forget about that. Myke Terry has become, aside of the powerful guitar/bass tones that shine through, one of the greatest parts of the record. The next track ‘Finite’ shows off a lot more of his range and presence with him being the main feature for the majority of the track, flowing around the guitar riffs and drum patterns and feeling like a much needed breath of fresh air to the bands discography and definitely the right choice for the feel. After going through the already popular ‘Feels Good’ track, it moves into another groovy affair with ‘Disaster Vehicle’ which bring powerful punchy grooves that will no doubt get the crowd bumping and vibing to their songs planted on this record, but within this lies the biggest flaw about the record.
The groove elements feel near enough the same through and through that its easy to find yourself getting a bit disorganised within the record that it just doesn’t feel that special to you when you listen to it. Sure, the record goes on a lot more melodically built path thanks to the bands versatility and that helps make tracks ‘Heavy Silence’ stand out with its subtle nuances that make the record that much more diverse in its production. The downside to that is the whole noticabilitely on that makes the interlude-esque tracks much more redundant in their presentation. The interlude itself as well as ‘Tides Change’ feel like they have no discernible place on the record other than to fill up space. The rap/hip hop elements are rife within ‘Hope’ and ‘On Her Mind’ with the vocals going on a different section. This helps raise the intrigue of the record as it shows again another side of the band. The electronic elements on the former track help round out the atmosphere of the record whereas with the latter, special guest Pouya gives the album that extra surprise and tenacity with his flow being that much more enunciated by the drum/bass combo in the background.
An album that has been on the waiting list for many fans might leave them undesired as the record doesn’t truly showcase what is great about this band. With the eyes being blinded by this much anticipated release, it takes a few listens to get realisation that the band are still growing and still trying to make a big mark on the genre as well as their fanbase. This doesn’t mark a step back, but more of a new step on a separate path that will no doubt give people something salivating for in the future.
Ready to bring back the heavy metal prowess in a big way, Miss May I are already hitting a strong batting average with their releases so far and from the looks of the singles they’ve dropped for their upcoming ‘Shadows Inside’ record, its shaping to be an interesting throwback as well as something exciting that you’ve yet to hear from the group.
The album opens with the title track, the band give you something thrashy and balls to the wall to kick off the record, throwing back to their more modern music. The instrumentation hits the nail quite strongly on the head as well as the blend of unclean vocals with the ear catching choruses that are bestowed upon the track. It opens up the album nicely before going into more of a blend of old school meets new school gravitas with ‘Under Fire’ which continues bringing a strong heat to the table with the signature changes for the choruses as well as a more ‘radio-friendly’ structure in its presentation. The band are showcasing a lot more as you move through into ‘Never Let Me Stay’ which moves into a more darker path in some elements. The backing singing works pretty nicely with the melodies that are brought over with the guitar, as well as being a placed to calm yourself down a bit after the hellacious former tracks. Whilst it hasn’t got too much going for it, which can be said the same for ‘My Destruction’, the band take to a lot more of their older influences which you can feel an Arch Enemy vibe from the latter song mentioned.
The record keeps hitting the mainstream metal side of things with the band with how they are presenting the record. You get songs like ‘Crawl’ which tend to get rid of the aggression and pummelling of riffs with a more passionate and anthemic element towards it and whilst it helps with their musical variability, its place on the record feels like it is there just to be a future single. The band start to feel more like a more steroid-inducing Of Mice & Men with some of the ways it shows itself off in the second half with songs such as ‘Casualties’ which blends more chugging rhythm with a more stylised and solo-friendly lead guitar. The band work superbly well together within the whole presentation of the record with there hardly ever being a dull moment on the actual album itself, but when you go from the track ‘Lost In The Grey’ which does a lot of to give you such a lasting impression of what mark they have on the heavy metal/metalcore scene from the previous track ‘Death Knows My Name’ which tends to focus on the more cleanliness side of things as well as being a more live set placement, it makes itself feel overshadowed by the hidden monsters that lurk within the records walls.
The band have had a few years to collect themselves from their previous record ‘Deathless’ to show fans who might have been disheartened from that release. It’s safe to say that they’re flowing along the same pattern as that record as well as the one before that but have made a more lasting impression with this album. The production value makes them feel like giants and will hopefully become more than just ‘another album’ to their fans.
One of the hottest rising stars to come out of Australia are the mixture of metalcore with post hardcore by the name of In Hearts Wake who are looking to make much more of a strong presence with their upcoming record ‘Ark’. Being the bands 4th studio record after their two very popular releases of ‘Earthwalker’ and ‘Skydancer’, it is now the moment to see where this record goes.
The album is starting off in its strong mannerisms that stick to what you probably already know about the group with opening track ‘Passage’ and it’s production hits hard, but at the moment the band seem to playing their cards to their chest as the track doesn’t show off too much newer elements within their arsenal. The same seems to go with next track ‘Nomad’ which provides you with the bands mixture of strong riffs and tire-puncturing heavy moments with some elegant guitar leads. The clean vocals from Kyle Erich give the choruses their much needed boost as well as during the tracks key moments. ‘Frequency’ makes you think you’ve accidentally skipped the album and jumped into a New Found Glory record from the beginning moments of the song, but don’t be fooled by the pop punk traits that come across as the record elevates its anthemic qualities so much more and the track easily cements itself as a live show staple.
The album moves forward and you tend to get more of the same style that you’re used to with the band as the same tempo elements and playing style unfortunately puts them back in their own creativity box. Songs such as ‘Warcry’ and ‘Elemental’ seem to give you a nice throw back to their popular material that you enjoy jamming and with encompassing these tracks into their entire discography they make a lot more sense, but with that aspect the tracks don’t have anything too memorable in their approach to make the record stand out as a whole. Now and again you have the softer songs help bring out a lot more to the band that you might not have been used to listening to, with tracks like ‘Arrow’ and ‘Waterborne’ further showing proof of Kyle’s masterful singing abilities, which help with some of the instrumentation and becomes one of the records redeemable features.
The album comes after some of their most seemingly forceful and passionate work to date and with this record they only just manage to keep that. With the majority of the feeling stemming around a record that feels too safe for a genre that is oversaturated to begin with, there are a few tracks that help overshadow this fact with its beauty. It’s not a major setback for the group, but might leave a few fans feeling like they didn’t get what they wanted.
Bringing you some strong blends of melodic hardcore and post hardcore to your ears, Essex based Create To Inspire are set in their ways to drop their debut album ‘Sickness’ next week. With the eyes set on them in new formatted territory, the band are here to pull out all the stops and possibly give you something you’ve been waiting to hear.
The record opens up quite strongly with the first bunch of tracks. ‘Agony’ really helps you get into the mindset that the band are in with the rhythm helping to elevate the lead sections where needed to help show off more of the bands style. The clean intro to this track is a perfect way to get you slowly into what they have coming with the band hitting many decent points where they can. The vocals hit the genre very well, both screams and cleans, but with the former they can feel a bit piercing and straining at points which whilst it helps add to the overall emotion, it will take a couple of listens to fully get into. ‘Recluse’ takes the bull by the horns again with a grasp of the heavier side of alternative rock seeping through the bands bloodstream and breathing a new breath into the record. Moving into the third track ‘Regret’, the band push a lot more of the darker side of the melodies on the lead guitar side, which is one of the best features over the entire record. The song seems to channel a more post hardcore punch in it with the clean vocals flowing over the choruses really elegantly and gives you a feeling of what a UK version of Being As An Ocean would be like in a formation.
The aforementioned influence carries on through the record and they hit that superbly with the next two tracks like ‘Loss’ and ‘Sinking’ and whilst it gives off that kind of vibe, the band still maintain their own originality which is rare for a band in this genre and the vocals start to make a lot more sense as the record progresses. Sadly, as the record moves closer to the end, the element of keeping hooked into what is being laid in front of you starts to lose its grip with songs like ‘Cope’ being great to listen to in the background, but nothing to truly spend your time focusing on. The final moments of the record start to pick up a little bit more with the song ‘Blue’ giving off another accomplishment with the bands instrumentation and structure as well as its clean vocals, but the screams once again feel that much more tiring and can put a dampener on the whole affair for new time listeners. Closing the record with ‘Adjust’, the melodic and post hardcore elements give the record that final burst into the stratosphere with a beautiful blend of cleans guitar hooks and punchy distortion only being more raised due to the drum pattern being flowing through the band from start to finish and ends the record on a more than positive note.
The band’s first full length is a surefire way of hitting the right notes for their Day 1’s that have been with them through thick and thin. Now that the band are pushing more boundaries within themselves, they’ve released something that might feel a bit generic, but immediately sets a benchmark for the group to start preparing to jump over. If you enjoy your melodic and post hardcore, this album which be a must listen for you!
Malevolence embark on a three week long tour starting in a couple of weeks time bringing along No Zodiac and Revulsion to join the party. Pre-orders for the album can be found over on BDHW Records.
With the announced move that Oceano would be now joining the Sumerian Records label, the collective deathcore world jumped out of their chairs in excitement due to what would become of the group. Now the band are releasing their fifth studio record titled ‘Revelation’, its time to see what has become of the deathcore veterans.
The album opens up with an immediate punch to the groin with ‘Dark Prophecy’ giving you that classic sound you’ve heard from the band, right down to the sudden slowing down of the track and the low groans of Adam Warren being a great way to show you that they aren’t slowing down any time soon. ‘Lucid Reality’ picks up the pace even more with a more groove-laden track and utilising a lot more of the atmospheric and eerie cleans to provide much more depth of field for the track when you’re listening to it. That doesn’t mean the band don’t shy away from aggressive chugs and the blast beats as are very evident in the track. The following track unfortunately have the same gravitas as the previous tracks and whilst there are moments of notable quality, ‘Path To Extinction’ feels very basic in its approach compared to what you’ve heard previous. It will no doubt bring something to the live shows but feels out of place on the record where it is positioned. Comparing that to ‘The Great Tribulation’ which seems to involve a lot more of an all around influence and push themselves a lot more in speed and technicality, the band put the previous track to shame with its ability to go balls to the wall.
The record progresses a bit further when you get to tracks such as ‘Illusions Unravel’ and ‘The Event’ which showcase even more of the bands talent within the field. The downside of this project is that they’ve hit a certain box within the album where certain elements carry over from track to track and can make the record feel a bit monotonous in its approach. Whilst the instrumentation and brutality in its structure help exemplify the greater qualities of the band, the band heighten a lot of their approach on the same moments that ‘Ascendents’ did, making it feel like a spiritual successor and not its own beast. ‘Final Form’ is a great example of their musical quality in the guitars which stray from convention to give you something a bit more melodic in its wake. The groovier elements make more of a mark in the track ‘Majestic 12’ as well as the album closer, as well as the title track ‘Revelation’ that give the record some sort of new life, but as the album draws to its close it leaves you with a mixture of emotions to take home with you.
The new move will do wonders for the bands career, but as a standalone album that the fans have been waiting for it wont feel like its own unique beast of a record. Whilst it is most definitely a step up from their previous record, the band are still stuck in a place they need to find a little bit more freedom in and expand upon.