Let me start by saying that today’s band flabbergasted me for various reasons, because if in the past you would have asked me to name music from Austria I would come up with Mozart and, sadly, DJ Ötzi. However, the four guys from Astpai have nothing in common with the two mentioned above…and that’s just as well. Their fourth full-length Burden Calls is going to be released on August 22nd and I’m happy to share my thoughts on it with you now already.
The punk-rock quartet definitely knows their stuff and recorded a really eclectic and fun-to-listen-to album, which didn’t leave my ear buds for quite some time. The major selling point for me was a certain sense of nostalgia that I got when I listened to their songs: I felt like being a young teenager again, playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for hours on end, because many of their songs would have fit perfectly into the game’s soundtrack.
Let me elaborate: the majority of the thirteen songs is an explosion of power chords and driving melodies that is bound to make you bounce around and bop your head. The interplay of the drummer and the bassist, who you can distinguish at all times, is top notch and provides a strong base for the guitars to go wild, when appropriate, or to take it easy when necessary. The songwriting isn’t going to rival the earlier-mentioned composer’s works, but it’s so well put together that you’ll say “fuck you Amadeus” in no time. The strong, yet real-sounding, production is just the icing on that delicious cake.
Then there’s the singer, who delivers an astounding performance, with his quite unique voice. I would say that he isn’t a virtuoso when it comes to vocals, but he takes everything out of the cards he’s been dealt and his slightly raspy voice will be stuck in your head before long. And as a little easter egg there’s a little detail on the song Emotion In The Way that lifts it to a whole new level, in my opinion: a female vocal track that is almost inaudible but very well used and gives the last track of these thirty-five minutes that extra something.
All in all, Astpai managed to put out a truly great punk record that should be checked out by every fan of the genre and newbie alike. Plus, they’ve won my (early) award for best outro of a song with the third track Out, but you’ll have to listen to that for yourselves when it comes out. On top of all that, having seen them live recently, I can only recommend going to one of their shows because they will (punk) rock you! To keep up with the band and their touring schedule, head over to Facebook and be sure to check the video below.
I believe a brief back story is in order about today’s review: when I started writing reviews I tried to stay away from labels and such and just pick the stuff I wanted to write about, from my own collection. As time went on, we occasionally got contacted by small, mostly UK-based, promoters and that’s when the idea of working together with people like that grew on me. I don’t review everything we are being sent, since I don’t like bashing what the people that made it are proud of. In the case of Tigers Of Junction Street the opposite applies though: I jumped on it from the first second since their self-titled EP simply blew me away! Enough of that lengthy introduction, let’s cut to the chase!
The quintet from High Wycombe, in England for those that are as proficient in geography as myself, plays what it, I presume, jokingly calls “melodic tech-rock”…I’m going to be that guy and say that it’s post-hardcore though. Even though I try to avoid making comparisons when I write about a band…I just have to come out and say that the five songs actually really remind me of Emarosa‘s self-titled record; which might a big reason why I dig them so much.
Melody is definitely an important factor in the band’s sound and that is made clear by the diverse riffing present during the eighteen minutes. However, the heavier side isn’t being short-handed either because there are quite a few headbang-worthy passages strewn in on more than one occasion. The drumming adapts perfectly to both aspects and delivers a truly solid basis for the music, with several truly interesting rhythms.
While the instrumental part could easily be enough to satisfy me, the other major selling point is the vocal performance! Yet again, my comparison above applies quite well to the singer’s voice, because in all the people that tried to adapt a similar singing style, this guy actually pulls it off flawlessly and even manages to add his own personal flavor. Even the lyrics, and enunciation, are aching to those of Mister Craig…I absolutely fucking love it.
All in all, there is no excuse whatsoever to not check out Tigers Of Junction Street because this EP is sure to put these newcomers in the best possible light. I, for one, am much impressed by what they managed to deliver here and I hope that a full-length will see the light of day at some point in the near future! You can listen to their song Incarnation below and visit their Facebook page to keep up with their news!
In case you’re unfamiliar with the proceedings of promo packages you get as a review site, let me tell you real quick that generally you get the (digital) record as well as a small biography of the band. When I read today’s band’s bio, one sentence caught my attention: “Yes, we have a young female singer, but she doesn’t sing like Hayley Williams or Avril Lavigne”. And let me tell you right from the start that Heel did not promise something they couldn’t keep, because their second EP Stranger Just The Same is quite something!
While I, personally, enjoy both mentioned above ladies’ voices very much, it’s always nice to hear a different approach…even if it does remind me of the sound of the mid-nineties No Doubt era, which is when I think they were at their best; but I digress. The singer has a rougher, yet feminine, voice than what you’d expect and she puts all her soul into her performance, managing to win you over from the first second she opens her mouth.
Despite the EP only having four tracks, you get a reasonable amount of variety on the instrumental level; covering both the up-beat and the quiet sonic spectrums. In terms of songwriting it’s kept concisely, but everything that makes a good listening experience is present. Especially the opener, which you can listen to below, is just catchy as hell and is bound to make you sing along after the first time you hear the chorus!
The London-based quartet has certainly left a very favorable impression on me after these fourteen minutes, and I genuinely hope that a full-length is planned for the, not-too, distant future. If you are into female-fronted bands, but in need of a change from the general monotony…terrible pun incoming…don’t be a Stranger and give Heel a chance and visit their Facebook page for more information. You won’t regret it, I promise!
Before I start today’s review, I have to admit that the main reason why I agreed to write about Homebound‘s EP Coming Of Age was the cover. I mean, a skyscraper-sized warthog can only mean greatness, right? Turns out my intuition didn’t betray me, because the music itself is quite worth listening to as well!
First of all, the English quintet plays pop punk, in many ways comparable to Fall Out Boy, but yet interlaced with several “punkier” elements, which puts a nice spin on the old formula. Even though the instrumental front is held rather simple, the songs manage to convince on the whole line since they’re really easy to get into. Always a plus in this genre, despite the lack of any major surprise throughout the eighteen minutes.
The vocals are mostly clean-sung, apart from some minor screams, and complement the drums and guitars perfectly. The thing that I liked most about the singing is that there’s a wholly separate melody to it, thus providing another layer of variation to the six songs.
While this rather short review doesn’t quite do this EP justice, I feel like there’s not much more I can tell you, since it’s definitely worth giving a spin if you’re into pop punk, and that any additional words would be a waste of time. So what are you waiting for? Listen to the song below and head to the band’s Facebook page!
Moments like these always bring a smile onto my face, because it means that I’ve been doing this for a while, since one of my first reviews I wrote for El Gore was about the second album of today’s band: For All Those Sleeping! A bit more than two years later, they have just released their third one Incomplete Me, and I obviously couldn’t get around writing about it. So let’s see what has changed and what hasn’t!
The quintet has mainly stuck to what their sound evolved into on the predecessor, which in itself is not a mistake, since it felt to me like they had managed to find just the right direction. However, there is the small addition of industrial-sounding parts, which avoids a complete copy-paste of Outspoken, so rest assured that you won’t feel like you put on the same record. So far so good.
This means that the riffs will come flying at you in alternation of heavy neckbreakers and melodic goodness. The drums are, more or less, on the same level as previously and deliver a diverse mix of groove and straight-forward drum-skin pounding. I do have the feeling that, generally speaking, the twelve songs are heavier than what you’re used to by the Minnesotans, with the exception of one song, but more on that in just a second.
The vocal performance has not seen a major improvement, but there was none necessary in the first place since it was quite tight to begin with. As mentioned before, since the songs are heavier, the growls are much more predominant however and cement these forty-eight minutes as a strong metalcore album. The lyrical horizon has also been broadened and features experiences from the band’s extensive touring schedule of the past two years. The biggest addition are the guest vocals by Jessica Ess on the afore-mentioned song, Hell Or Heaven, which is as close to a ballad as you can get on here.
All in all, the strong production and the few new elements make this FATS record possibly the best one so far…but I must admit that I’m still on the fence whether I prefer album number two or this one. Incomplete Me is more of a grower than an instant killer, and I’ve only started to appreciate it after probably my fifth listen. If you do give it a chance to wrap itself around your brain, I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. So be sure to give the song below a go and check out the band on Facebook.