As Parkway‘s first real venture into concept album territory, Reverence is ambitious as it is brilliant. Kicking off with the spoken/growled, fast-paced first single Wishing Wells, it’s clear they’re not putting out Ire again as many had feared. Opening with spoken words spat with fury, frontman Winston McCall has a point to prove – the time spent away is not time wasted. Breaking into the mildly more familiar second track Prey, the band sound more mature than ever before. Giant gang vocals, bouncy beats and octaved leads provide more of the sound all onlookers have been expecting.
A crunchy bass solo brings in third track Absolute Power with crushing power before the band descends, breaking away into more spoken/growled combination vocals. Screams of “the truth drops like a bomb / the battle is on” brings in a wah-soaked solo, displaying the guitar techniques of Parkway old have not been lost despite the stylistic change. Comments about how the band has “outgrown metalcore” worried some people about losing breakdowns and heaviness – the venue-demolishing ending to the track proves that spirit isn’t gone by any stretch of the imagination.
Vocally, this album is the most interesting material of Parkway Drive‘s career. Experimenting with different styles of screaming and spoken word, the lyrics are conveyed with different effects throughout Reverence – something that has worked out incredibly well. Where Ire sounded quite similar the whole way through from the lack of variation, the experimenting throughout this album keeps each track fresh and moving on from the last while the instrumentation ensures the tracks aren’t a rag-tag bunch thrown together. The differences and similarities bring the album together as a whole fantastically which seems to be an art lost to an extent in recent years in heavy music.
The contrast can best be seen between Wishing Wells, Prey and Shadow Boxing clearly. The latter is an interesting track in total and perhaps the most ambitious song the band have released ever. Beginning with clean, melodic guitar lines matched with similar vocals, the emotion of the lyrics is brought through with ease as McCall sings “I leave a scar on all I touch” and breaking into a rap/growl build which sounds phenomenal in the context of the track. Building through chugging guitars combined with a huge string and piano sound, they have managed to create a giant symphonic rock sound which retains its heaviness somehow, showing off just how good this lot are as musicians.
Overall, Reverence is the best collection of Parkway songs to date. Variation, experimentation and pure heaviness are the keys to unlock the brilliance, but they have hit a winner here and the tour later this year is set to be very special indeed with these tracks in their arsenal.
Well known for their range of influences across hardcore and punk rock, Palm Reader haven’t been afraid to get stuck right in when they’re recording in the studio and they’re anything but strangers to going hard. Luckily, since the release of 2015 album Beside the Ones We Love they’ve definitely not lost that attitude or identity. Right from the very first notes of Swarm, the pace and power of this third effort are clearly evident. The influence of old-school Gallows is clear throughout the verses, with the hardcore screams having that “couldn’t give a damn” feel conveyed throughout their 2006 debut album Orchestra of Wolves.
Crashing through Internal Winter and Like A Wave, the band show no signs of slowing down. The former has elements of a djent feel with some low-tuned chug and bend work underneath the higher octave distortion to provide a hugely deep tone before moving into a melodic chorus with some quick lead riffs that fill all the remaining space. In the same vein, the latter is a no-holds-barred melodic hardcore tune with some ferocious screams mixed in with very well-mixed clean vocals to provide a fantastic blend as frontman Josh McKeown demonstrates his sheer power and ability in one track.
The highlights, however, sit a little lower down the tracklist. Following more emo-influenced Inertia, the instrumental track Breach splits up the album immaculately. The stuttering delay and rich reverb of the guitars combined with synth sounds creates an atmospheric, almost dream-like pause in the heaviness to leave time to think of where the album has been and the direction it is set to take. A long fade out brings the track to an end, and the calm before the storm is broken by the immense Coalesce. The giant guitar sounds bring the release right back to the track it set before the interlude, and the visceral screams of “wake up, wake up” instantly grab the attention back after the rest. The song by itself sums up the album incredibly well – a bolshy and raucous sound with refined and melodic elements, clearly influenced by a number of different artists.
Parallelling those tracks are another instrumental track Dorothy and the following Clockwork but with one key difference – Clockwork is a phenomenally broad and somewhat surprisingly restrained piece. Featuring no screams until a bridge over two minutes in, the first half of the song relies on lyrical content and the relationship between the dynamic vocal melody and the effect-rich guitar tones before developing into a pulsating, confident and heavy message of encouragement to “keep breathing”. Unlike with many bands though, the two parts of the song are not only blended through the dynamic bridge but somehow Palm Reader manage to retain the integral feel of the emotive first section throughout the heavy second – one of (if not the) best track in their repertoire.
Overall, not only a well-written and performed album but a beautifully crafted record with many, many faces. If anyone had any doubts about the ability or questioned the power of Palm Reader, Braille is set to make them look incredibly, incredibly stupid.
A shoutout has to go to the label Silent Cult as well – they’re giving some fantastic bands a platform to put out some excellent music.
Bridgend’s I Fight Bears have been touted as ones to watch by a variety of metal-based publications. Their name alone piques interest, conjuring images of burly men, wielding a variety of heavy weapons. In fact, that’s exactly what the band are.
Ahead of the release of their fifth album on Friday (16th Feb), Feed The Rhino frontman Lee Tobin took some time out to talk to us about the return of the band, the new album and Jamie Lenman.
First of all, congratulations on a fantastic new record! It feels just as angry but more controlled than your past releases – do you feel the band has matured in the last 4 years? I definitely think we’ve learned a lot, not just now but in the last nine or ten years. Over the last four years definitely. Parting ways for a while to do our own thing, having our own space to contend with ourselves. You find out how involved you were in the band. You have to mature really, it’s the only thing you can do.
In terms of lyrics, has your approach changed since The Sorrow and the Sound? I don’t think it’s changed that much, really. If anything, I always wear my heart on my sleeve to try to write what I personally feel and say. At the same time, there are a few different elements on this album where it’s not too personal to me – one of the songs is about someone else for a start. It’s about finding the right words to say and put forward for that, as well as trying to connect a bit at the same time. My general way is putting across a good feeling in the music and use that to try to put out what’s in my head to the best of my ability.
Yellow And Green is a fantastic melodic tune from the album – will it be one for the setlist or will it be a while before we hear it? It’ll be one to wait for, to be honest. That track was a late bloomer really, we finished writing it in the studio. I love that tune – it’s one of the tracks that I find really sets the album up and it’s a lovely transitional song in the album. It was great fun to record and write as well. I’d love to play it live though because I think it would sound amazing. I don’t know how well I’d sing it but I’d definitely give it a go.
Was it one of the more vocally challenging songs for you to record then? It’s not so much the fact that any of them are difficult. I think it was always something that was always in the back of my mind; I always wanted to push the cleaner vocals a little bit more and we wanted to write a bigger chorus. It’s just a challenge really, going from heavy into clean vocals. It’s something I’m not really used to but it’ll be a really big test on this tour. I really want to do it and I hope I can do it well.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why? It’s changed a lot. First of all, I really like Losing Ground because it was different from every one of our albums. Not completely different because we’ve always written those interlude songs on our albums like Tides [on 2012 album The Burning Sons], Empty Mirrors [on 2010 album Mr Red Eye], Sitting Ducks [on Mr Red Eye] and now this on this album. Losing Ground is more of a song than a transition like those though, less of an interlude track. It’s a song that means a lot to me and I thought we connected really well writing it. I think we’ve made it sound really good, but I really love [album opener] Timewave Zero too because it’s a bridge between the old and the new. It’s still got the heavy vocals, the real slap-heavy riffs and a bit more of a polished sound. It’s got that clean chorus too which we’ve tried to do on this album more. I’ll listen through the album and end up sticking on All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy – that song is a thumper. That reminds me of the old us, it really brings nostalgia. For me, it’s probably that song really.
What do you hope this album will do for Feed the Rhino? Just give us the opportunity to tour again really. We’re a live band; we love playing live. It’s our heartbeat. Other than that, maybe just to show people a different side to us which hopefully they like. It’s going to get mixed reviews because it’s something slightly unusual for us to take this kind of direction but if we didn’t try we wouldn’t know. The thing is for us – this is really stepping back in. We love the music industry, the scene, we love playing music live. We’ve always written the stuff we want to write and we always will. If it sounds good to us and it sounds like Feed The Rhino then we’ll write it. We want people to see this album as something new that is still very us. We want it to get the excitement back to bring people to watch us again.
Do you feel the UK heavy music scene has changed in the time you’ve been active? I think it’s changed a lot. Coming back now, it feels different. We’re going out now for the first time in a while and there are bands we toured with back then that have gotten a lot bigger and doing bigger things, but there is a new crop of bands coming through playing different kinds of music. The good thing about the industry and the heavy scene is that the change and new feel is good, but at the same time it’s good to see old dogs doing good things as well. Look how long Jamie Lenman‘s been around but what he’s writing at the moment is genius! He’s the Beethoven of the industry at the moment, and I love that. It’s good to see bands like While She Sleeps doing the shows they’re doing, and Architects deserve everything they’re getting at the moment. They’re just great at what they do. Everything they’ve written has been really, really good but bands have to progress. Doomsday, just wow. Everything they’re writing now is brilliant. Those boys should be proud of themselves.
If you could have written any one song in the world, what would it be and why? I don’t know what song it would be, but it would have to be a Rage Against The Machine song. I mean, for one they’re the best band ever. Their songs just make you react. Off the top of my head, probably Killing In The Name but they have so many good ones.
What albums have you been listening to recently? Jamie Lenman‘s new album, a lot. I actually listened to Black Peaks for the first time recently too which is great, because I didn’t know too much about them. I haven’t got round to listening to new Marmozets‘ but I will do, definitely.
Where do you see the band in 5 years’ time? Still kicking the s*** out of it… I’d like to think we’ll still be here in five years’ time, and I can see us doing bigger and better things. We’re making a start on that now, and we’ll build on it and build with it. We’ll keep writing, stay Feed The Rhino and re-establish us as Feed The Rhino really.
If you could create a dream tour lineup including yourselves, who would accompany you? Feed The Rhino, Rage Against The Machine and Pantera, easy. There would be nothing left of anywhere. Obviously with Dimebag though. I’d dream about that stuff. That’s one of those situations where you’d get asked who you’re touring with and you’d say ‘the two best bands ever!’
Have you got any specific hopes for the upcoming headline tour? Hoping people come out to see us and have some fun. The shows are going to be some really good times. There will be new stuff and old stuff, because people that know us know we love a party and that’s what’s going to happen on these shows. We’re playing some great places, playing some cool little venues with some bigger venues and selling the album out on tour too. Just come and party with us!
Thanks to Lee for talking to us and best of luck to the band for the album release!
The Silence will drop on Century Media on Friday 16th February across all platforms, and you can catch Feed The Rhino on tour at these dates:
Feb 20 – Bristol @ Exchange Feb 21– Exeter @ Cavern Feb 22 – Southampton @ Joiners Feb 23 – London @ The Underworld Feb 24 – Norwich @ The Owl Sanctuary Feb 27 – Nottingham @ The Rescue Rooms Feb 28, 2018 – Newcastle @ Think Tank Mar 1 – Glasgow @ G2 Mar 2 – Manchester @ Rebellion Mar 3 – Birmingham @ The Flapper Mar 15 – North Wales @ Hammerfest
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.
Many of Of Mice & Men‘s fans were surprised when clean vocalist Aaron Pauley confirmed he would be taking on lead vocal duties alongside the release of first single Unbreakable, but Defy takes on a blend of the sounds of Of Mice & Men‘s older material and Pauley’s former band Jamie’s Elsewhere during his vocal tenure.
Defy is kicked off with the title track which again shocked a large portion of the fanbase when it was released. A return to heavy riffs and crushing vocals is evident as soon as the song kicks in with screams and chugging guitars dominating all of the space on the recording. Come the chorus, these somewhat make way for a wide, sweeping gang vocal that demonstrates the incorporation of Restoring Force ideas for what seems like the first time since it was released. The heaviest breakdown since at least 2011’s The Flood hits around halfway through the track, bookended by the choruses that ground the track safely in the band’s style. A very promising start.
Following up the opener comes what is arguably the best song on the album – titled Instincts. The sheer power of the guitar work is sure to be enough to make many sit in awe of the tone crafted throughout, and backed up by the cymbal-filled drum wrap-around created by Tino and the producers that cuts through the chunky guitar-bass hybrid. The wah-riddled solo from Phil sounds dystopian in sections and is just plain technical in others – this is a lead guitarist who has his confidence and ability on display now more than ever before. It’s not all heavy and crazy though – lighter songs including pre-release single Back To Me are sure to keep fans of the newer eras of the band with the catchy choruses and more middle-of-the-road rock sound they have crafted.
Vocally throughout, Aaron sounds very much in practice as if he never slowed up his screaming at all. Forever YDG’n is written somewhat as a tribute to the first two albums of the band, and the vocal work throughout the tune does it justice entirely. Slightly contrasting the nostalgia is Sunflower which brings a new dual-scream dynamic with Pauley providing harsh growls alongside higher screams to create a wonderful blend that matches the feeling of the instrumentals perfectly.
The elephant in the room must be addressed though: yes, the track titled Money really is a cover of thatPink Floyd song. Was it expected? Not at all. Does it work? Honestly, it does in its own strange way. Taken as a single, the cover seems to be a rather strange rendition and outside the comfort zone of Of Mice & Men as a band, but when woven into the fabric of the album as a whole the placement of the song and the themes within the lyrics work to slot in seamlessly.
Overall, Defy is a fantastic return to form for a band that seemed to lose their way with their last release. Losing the spearhead figure of your band often crushes all morale and demands dramatic reinvention. As Robert Burns said in his poem from which the band’s name originated, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” – Of Mice & Men had the perfect solution to Defy all expectations.
Following the announcement of their album, Asking Alexandria have announced the title and have released another song. The new record will be self-titled and is set for a 15th December release. The album is the first to have original frontman Danny Worsnop back after his departure in 2015.
The new song released today is called Where Did It Go? and throws some serious shade at modern metal bands… It sounds a bit like this:
Rock veterans Fozzy are coming back to Europe in October this year with Hardcore Superstar on a co-headline run.
Fozzy are set to close the UK dates with their set, while Hardcore Superstar will finish off the European dates. Support comes in the shape of Madame Mayhem and The Last Band, but they’re not in a standard order either – The Last Band are going to open the UK run with Madame Mayhem following and vice versa for Europe.
See the full list below:
27.10.2017 (UK) Birmingham – O2 Academy 2
28.10.2017 (IRL) Dublin – Tivoli
29.10.2017 (UK) Belfast – Limelight 2
31.10.2017 (UK) Chester – Live Rooms
01.11.2017 (UK) Manchester – Waterfront
02.11.2017 (UK) London – Islington Academy
03.11.2017 (UK) Sheffield – Corporation
04.11.2017 (UK) Glasgow – The Garage
05.11.2017 (UK) Newcastle – Riverside
07.11.2017 (NL) Amsterdam – Q Factory
08.11.2017 (DE) Aschaffenburg – Colas Saal
09.11.2017 (CH) Pratteln – Z7
10.11.2017 (IT) Trezzo Sull’Adda – Live Club
11.11.2017 (IT) Roncade – New Age Club
12.11.2017 (IT) Rome – Kimera Rock
14.11.2017 (AT) Vienna – Flex
15.11.2017 (DE) Munich – Technikum
16.11.2017 (DE) Essen – Turock
17.11.2017 (DE) Hamburg – Gruenespan
18.11.2017 (BE) Genk – CPG
Fozzy also recently released a new song titled Judas, so watch that below too:
Following on from the announcement of their newest studio album Red Hands Black Deeds, Shaman’s Harvest have released the first single off of this upcoming record. This new single The Come Up implements this well orchestrated and juxtaposing instrumentation that houses a Motown backbeat and this classic rock and roll swagger. This single sets a great precedent for everything which is to follow on Shaman’s Harvest’s new record. Check out The Come Up below.
St Ives quartet Hollowstar fall heavily into the bracket of classic rock. It’s a genre that by the very nature of being labelled ‘classic’ can at times be somewhat redundant in its approach to fresh sounds. There are still bands (The Answer for example) who have managed to keep the bombastic flame from going out by penning music that although it may be rooted in the older school of rock, delivers on songs and musical presence. On Some Things Matter, Hollowstar fall somewhere between those two extremes.
The emphasis here is on the blues side of rock with opener Lay Down – a song seemingly about an ageing hometown girl not able to let go of her youth – being driven by a huge groovy riff reminiscent of Audioslave’s Cochise. Vocalist Joe Bonson delivers some heavyweight moments throughout the EP, sounding a lot like The Cult’s Ian Astbury and tracks like the slow build of Feel The Burn allow him to show this off well.
For a band still in its relative musical youth, the songwriting although somewhat repetitive in nature at times, has clearly developed from years of listening to Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake and even heavier acts such as Pantera. Guilty in particularly shows off crunchy rolling guitar lines, punctuated by a sturdy rhythm section – coming together to sound like a mutated take on The Black Crowes.
For a straight up classic rock release, the songs on Some Things Matter are strong and deliver on expectations of dominant choruses and churning riffs. The thing missing here is a sense of urgency and reliance on basic song structure which can occasionally leave songs blurring into one another. If however the listener is one who frequents classic rock nights/clubs and enjoys blues driven rock turned up to eleven, Some Things Matter is an enjoyable trip into rocks past.