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alone. – Somewhere In The Sierras


Today I’m going to tell you a bit about one of the most interesting solo projects I’ve heard of in recent times. Michael Franzino, of A Lot Like Birds fame, started a crowdfunding campaign a while ago, so he could isolate himself for an entire month in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, in order to write his, as he called it, most personal album thus far. After successfully raising the amount, alone. was born and more or less a year later, yesterday June 30th as a matter of fact, Somewhere In The Sierras was released…and it’s not what I expected…at all.

To be frank, I got into ALLB quite late but I devoured all of their previous releases with great appetite, so obviously when I read that one of the main songwriters was starting a side project, I immediately backed it and I was eager to hear the first song, full well knowing that it would not have the same magnitude as the full band music. When I did hear the first track, I was a bit underwhelmed, simply because it sounded very electronic and soulless to me. In hindsight I must say that I was a fool, trying to judge such a conceptual album after a single output…but even now, after having listened to it around twenty times, I’m not as flabbergasted as I thought I would be.

Obviously, expectations are always a double-edged sword but I have to say that SITS is a definite grower. Once you get your head around the fact that the music is not necessarily driven by the “classical” instruments (or lack thereof in some instances) used, but rather the atmosphere that is created through the extremely melodic soundscape of various atypical instruments and electronic devices. There’s cello, violin and trumpet…which, to be fair, have been present on his previous works in one form or another but have never been as much of a driving force as during these thirty-six minutes, as well as a lot of electronic sounds.

The vocal duties are mostly shared between Michael himself Danika McClure on a few songs, who have a really enjoyable dynamic going on between them…even though I guess technically the project should be called together. then, but I digress. The lyrics are mostly themed around solitude and melancholia, which is to be expected if you consider how and where the ten songs were written. The songwriting on the other hand is top notch, in my opinion, because even though there is only one major “hit single”, so to speak, the ensemble is just so soothing and thought-inspiring that it’s a pure pleasure to delve into it.

All in all, alone. is one of those things that I can’t really recommend everyone to listen to, simply because I think that if the idea behind it doesn’t appeal to you or at least intrigue you ..it’s most likely not your cup of tea. With that being said, listen to the above-mentioned song below and if it touches you in one way or another…do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on this beautiful piece of art. More information can be found on Facebook.

I The Mighty – Connector


The biggest, and only, fear I always have when I discover a new(comer) band with a brilliant debut album, is whether their next album can live up to my, naturally, high expectations. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been sorely disappointed in the past, and I know that it will most likely happen at least a dozen more times in the future…but when I The Mighty, one of my favorites of 2013, released their new record Connector on June 2nd, I was relieved to find out that all my hopes had been fulfilled! Which is why I just can’t pass up on delivering a belated review!

The Californians have stayed true to their post-hardcore roots, but I feel like they built upon that foundation and expanded it tenfold: everything just seems even richer and fuller than on Satori, and is simply a pure delight from start to finish. One thing that the quartet has always had going for itself, was their ability to write catchy, yet complex and technical, songs and let me reassure you that they have not lost that talent, as is perfectly showcased during these twelve new songs!

Each musician shines in his own way, be it through addictive groove in the drumming, spiced up with some delicious fills; through beautiful melodies on the guitar in stark contrast to some truly slamming riffs, or through enjoyable bass lines that provide a clear line through the forty-four minutes. Connector also sees the implication of some select few synthesized sounds, that, while not strictly necessary in my opinion, provide a nice change to the aural spectrum.

While the entire instrumentation is worth listening to on its own, especially when it transcends into epically built-up explosions of energy, the cherry on the musical cake definitely comes in the form of the phenomenal performance of the vocalist. Covering a wide range of styles with his beautiful clean vocals, his powerful and heartfelt screams and most of all his prowess in melodious vocal patterns, I could listen to this guy day in, day out.

As last time, there is very little for me to criticize about I The Mighty‘s new output, except the fact that one song/interlude could have been scratched from the record, since it steals a bit of the power from an else very strong album…so what are you waiting you for? Head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information, be sure to watch the fabulous single-shot music video below and, if you like what you hear, buy the friggin’ record! And trust me: it’s a grower! …that’s what…she…said…?

Versus The World – Homesick/Roadsick


I feel like there’s been some sort of pattern these past few months, where I alternate between punk and metal reviews…and honestly: I’ve never been happier. I’ll be honest: at times it’s really difficult to provide content all by myself on a weekly basis, but records like Homesick/Roadsick by Versus The World make the struggle well worth it!

The Californians play punk rock with a penchant toward the pop punk genre with some minor emo elements, which goes down so smoothly because of their proficient songwriting skills and mastery of their instruments. Melody is definitely the major driving force behind the eleven songs, but in terms of speed and power the quintet doesn’t lag behind either, providing a truly solid backdrop for the vocals.

The drumming is energetic and is accompanied by clearly audible bass lines, and both in perfect interplay the achieve a groove-laden base, that is overlaid by tons of simple but truly effective guitar riffs that range from heavy to soft melodies. The cherry on the cake are the playful solos that spice things up in just the right moments, thus creating a massively catchy experience to every listener.

The emo elements I mentioned earlier are only found in the vocals, which despite being melodic and screamed for the most part, are shaky and a bit whiny in some moments…and I absolutely dig it. Simply because it provides a truly heartfelt quality to the vocals, that is often lacking in the (pop) punk genre. In case you are not into that type of performance, don’t shy away, because it’s very minor, easily ignored and it doesn’t distract from the strong singing capabilities of the vocalist at all.

Homesick/Roadsick is the first output of the band that I’ve listened to and it managed to leave a very positive impression of Versus The World! So be sure to give the record a spin when it’s released on June 23rd, despite the most-likely major hangover you’ll be having after the National Holiday celebrations! In the meantime, you can listen to the first single below and head over to the guys’ Facebook page for more information!

Epsilon – Zu Richten


Since it’s been rather quiet in the post-hardcore realm lately, safe for a few gems, I’ve had to enlarge my scope and delve into other genres…truth be told I couldn’t be happier. Especially since I’ve been treated to some true quality material, most of which was in the death metal direction. Today marks yet another entry of said style: Epsilon‘s Zu Richten, which was released last Friday!

The Austrians take a very old school approach and definitely like it raw and brutal, since there is little to no high tech bullshit involved and, at least that’s what it sounds like to my ears, every instrument is recorded as is. No triggers, no digital alteration, no nothing. Just pure, honest, mayhem…just like it should be!

The forty-six minutes are mostly a series of balls to the wall blast-beats and double bass rampage, combined with fast-paced, technical guitar play and a very distinct and clearly audible bass sound…a true delight to my ears! Obviously, and thankfully, there is also variation in the form of slower and groovier parts, that truly drive home the ever-present feeling of heaviness.

The thing that stands out to me, however, about the quintet is that throughout the eleven songs, they have six which are sung in German, complete with the typically Austrian rolled R. And to be honest…those are truly the ones that stand out, not only because of the language but also because they have the best songwriting and variety. Especially the seven-minute piece Die Schuld des Lebens is a ride to hell and along with the song Nutzmensch Agonie definitely among the masterpieces on here.

All in all, there is no doubt to me that Epsilon have managed to write a record that knows how to convince genre fans of their prowess and I’m quite certain that Zu Richten will not leave the playlists of many of their listeners. So be sure to listen to the song below and head over to their Facebook page for more information!

Going Away Party – Going Away Party


I’ve said it a thousand times before: I fucking love pop punk! On the other hand there’s a genre that I used to avoid in my teens, because I couldn’t get into it, but grown quite fond of at a later age and that is emo…opposite day, I know right? Either way: Going Away Party unites both worlds, with a definite emphasis on the latter genre, on their self-titled debut album and I want to rave a bit about it.

The trio’s music has this really old-school emo feel to it, complete with slightly wonky playing, an angsty atmosphere and simple but effective melodies, that just manages to appeal to fans of the genre. Especially during the drum parts, I noticed a handful of hick-ups such as several out-of-beat parts, but rather than perfecting it digitally, they stayed in the mix, which gives them so much more character.

The riffs during the eleven tracks are nothing you’ve never heard before, and they’re also kept quite simple, but they simply work so perfectly in the ensemble. It’s also where you can find the pop punk elements, due to the truly enjoyable melodies and the resulting catchiness. In terms of tempo, there’s a couple of more up-beat songs and some slower ones, which altogether make for a fairly diverse experience.

The major selling point for enthusiasts are the raspy, yet whiny, vocals that display so much charisma. Along with the “gentle” screams and the truly cliché lyrics, it feels so nostalgic that I can’t help but love what the Brits put together. The vast majority of the thirty-nine minutes deals with lost love, teenage-angst and the tracks all convey a deeply melancholic vibe.

To sum things up, Going Away Party definitely don’t reinvent the wheel, quite the contrary actually: they put a wheel to use that was forgotten for a long time, and in doing so they show that it can still drive as smoothly as in its prime. So, if you too miss those long-gone days of good emo music, don’t hesitate and check out their self-titled debut which drops on June 8th! In the meantime, you can head over to their Facebook page and sadly not listen to the song below, because there’s nothing online yet.

Feradur – Epimetheus


It feels like forever since I got to write about a local release, and what better way to draw attention to our small country than with a band that says about itself that it plays Luxembourg metal? Feradur is a relatively “new” band, despite being in existence for almost a decade, and quite frankly a group of guys that I’ve never really paid much attention to in the past. A fact that is yet another piece of evidence that I am not omniscient, because their first full length Epimetheus proves that they deserve to be noticed!

While the genre name they gave themselves is not entirely wrong, because it does have that typical Luxembourgish feel to it, I think I have to point out that the quintet plays melodic death metal, with a heavy focus on the viking-inspired kind. All throughout, the majority of the guitar parts are fairly heavy, which in combination with the tank-like powerful drumming, provides a solid backdrop for the songs to unfold. Heaviness is not the main selling point though, because the melodic side does not fall flat either, and delivers a truly diverse listening experience.

One thing that I have noticed though, is that there is a definite build-up that is happening during the nine songs. While the first two songs are a good introduction to the band’s sound, the guys unload all their potential in the middle of the record with their, in my opinion, smash hit Rotten Heart and the surrounding tracks, while ending on a slightly weaker note. In a way, that is also a strong selling point in my opinion, since many records nowadays blow their entire load on the first couple of songs and make you shy away from listening to them in their entirety…definitely not the case here.

I also have to give immense praise for the vocal performance throughout the thirty-eight minutes because, contrary to my expectations, the singer covers a wide range of styles and avoids boredom rather effectively. The multitude of techniques is only further enhanced by the actual skill that is put to show though…and that is in no way lacking! The growls are deep and menacing, the screeches are strong and ear-piercing and the screamed melodies are a pure delight!

Even though technically not quite the correct denomination, Feradur are a newcomer with a lot of potential and have managed to deliver a worthy first entry in their catalog with Epimetheus! While, out of personal preference, I won’t be spinning the record on a daily basis, I can only strongly advise you to give it a good and thorough listen, because I’m willing to bet that you won’t be disappointed. So, make sure to listen to the above-mentioned song below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more info, especially concerning their release show that is taking place this Friday, May 29th, in Diekirch at Atelier 6!

Chabtan – The Kiss Of Coatlicue


I honestly can’t put into words what it is, but there is something about French metal that I can distinguish nine out of ten times upon my first listen. One thing that does come to mind is that they absolutely love the almighty groove and modern elements, the same goes for Chabtan, who are going to release their new album, The Kiss Of Coatlicue, on May 25th!

More specifically, the quintet roams into the deathcore genre while adding some symphonic elements and, as mentioned before, a thick layer of groove. A mix that works quite well in my opinion, but on the other hand the songwriting is for the majority of the eleven songs very similar and there are admittedly very few surprises.

The production is very modern but it delivers in the right places, with every double bass kick as well as every blast beat sounding nice and crisp. However, the guitars, while generally-speaking well recorded as well, do lack a bit of punch and have a tendency of turning into mush during the quicker passages, but that’s forgivable because the main sound hammers well enough throughout the forty-seven minutes.

The entire record is a concept album about the Mayan gods, notably the death gods, and despite having a bit of a hard time understanding the lyrics, due to the notorious Frenchie accent on one hand and the screams, screeches and growls on the other hand, they seem to be fairly interesting. The different singing styles offer enough variation to avoid repetition and there are a couple of dual-layered passages that sent shivers down my spine…chapeau!

All in all, Chabtan deliver a solid debut record that will definitely win over genre-enthusiasts but, for me personally, there was that special little something that was missing to make the spark jump over. As always, I do advise you to make up your own mind and check out the song below, before heading to their Facebook page to keep up with them!

Sounds Of Fury – Mediocracy


Before listening to today’s album, I came up with a nice little play on words to describe it, in case it was bad…however, despite regretting the lost pun, I am glad to say that Mediocracy is anything but mediocre. As a matter of fact, the new album by Sounds Of Fury actually made me feel really nostalgic and reminded me of the good old days when I enjoyed the hell out of death metal.

The Swiss quartet play classic death metal, with a strong nuance toward the technical kind, that consists of almost incessant blast beats and non-stop double bass work, coupled with truly evil riffs. The technical side is filled by erratic licks as well as crazy-sounding solos, that blend into the grand scheme of the nine tracks quite neatly, thus creating a truly challenging listening experience.

I do have to say that the non-stop barrage of brutality does at times border the monotonous. Then again, at least to me this genre isn’t about necessarily being diverse for diversity’s sake, but rather about creating a tense atmosphere…and that goal is absolutely achieved throughout the thirty-eight minutes.

The only real gripe I have is the fact that the vocals have very little variation to them. At least the one style that is present, growls, is mastered to perfection and often reminded me of a certain man with an inverted cross on his forehead. No, not Charles Manson. A couple of screeches or screams would certainly benefit the ensemble a lot and add an interesting layer to the music.

While they aren’t quite as versatile as their knife counterpart from the same country, Sounds Of Fury are definitely worth checking out, whether you are a fan of bands like Deicide or not, because they deliver where it matters: in your face! If I managed to make you curious, head over to the band’s Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for the official release on May 25th! Sadly, no song this time since I couldn’t find anything online.

Brunel – Smash On


After bringing you a couple of reviews from my musical comfort zone these past two weeks, it’s time to step out of said zone again and venture toward the unfamiliar! My first thought when I put on Brunel‘s record Smash On, was “Oh hey, this sounds like Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim Vs The World!”. I know this sounds random, but if you’ve seen this, seriously underrated, movie, you might not take me for bat-shit crazy.

The quartet plays this weird mix of stoner rock and hardcore-punk, that just makes you wanna dance. While the massive bass lines are definitely the driving force behind the instrumental part of the nine tracks, the guitars and the drums contribute a lot to the energetic vibe as well. On a technical level, the music is nothing to write home about, but the groove shines when it has to and there is enough diversity to avoid boredom.

Just as the title of the Englishmen’s record might suggest, these thirty-eight minutes are fairly straight-forward and combined with the, dare I say, primitive production, they don’t try to be something they’re not. If the word “primitive” has discouraged you from even considering this record, you are on the definitely on the wrong track. The instruments all sound organic and convey a truly honest sound. No bullshit allowed.

The vocals are, what I would predict to be, hit or miss for the majority of listeners however. The performance itself is really solid, but the way they are recorded might make it difficult to get into them at first. The way I imagine them being recorded, is by placing a megaphone five meters away from the mic, then the singer another two meters away from that. While I’m quite sure that that’s not at all how it was done, I must say that after a few tries, I enjoyed them for their uniqueness.

All in all, Brunel are definitely not your run-off-the-mill band or everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like music that is different than the rest and that is a bit wonky, in a good way, at times…don’t hesitate and give Smash On a spin! Side note: in my humble opinion they have some similarities to our local stoner-rockers Dirty Crows in some instances…maybe that might incite you further. Either way, head over to their Facebook page and listen to the song below until the official release date on May 11th!

Eidola – Degeneraterra


I have learned something over the past sixteen months: if you find the Blue Swan Records logo on an album, you can just go ahead and buy it. There is no way you won’t be satisfied by the quality of what you’re going to be listening to…even more so if you’re into post-hardcore. Despite all the previous releases being in the same vein, yet different enough to avoid repetition, today’s record wanders off in new territories, while still staying true to the label’s main genre. And let me tell you: Degeneraterra by Eidola manages to open even further horizons for this promising label!

As mention before, the quintet plays post-hardcore, but of the very experimental fashion, with many elements borrowed from other directions. At times you get a progressive metal vibe, which blends into a blues-inspired part, before erupting in an explosion of complex and heavy riffing. Just when you think you figured the guys’ music, they throw something new at you. This can be demanding to you as a listener at times, but trust me when I tell you that the effort you put into paying close attention and feeling the music, is rewarded tenfold.

Especially the ingenious and well-structured songwriting plays a huge role in fusing all these various elements into thirteen songs that are a blast from start to finish. Add to that the fact that it’s a concept album which, as the name might suggest, deals with the decline of the world and the environment we live in, as well as a glass-clean production and you find yourself having a hard time letting go from the Uthans’ music. Small side note: they’re also genuinely nice people that deeply care about their fans, which became very clear when I found a personal note in my package, that contained their previous record, with them thanking me for my support…definitely a first for me.

If all that wasn’t enough already to make a brilliant album, the instruments are only a part of the goodness…because the vocals take this hour-long musical journey to a whole new level. I have to admit that I am not one hundred percent sure about which of the three vocalists sang, or screamed, which parts, but the result is simply hypnotic, to me. Especially, the “main” singer has some phenomenal pipes and keeps pushing his vocal chords further and further on each song, delivering a brilliant performance. This being a concept album, the lyrics are also everything but your typical “oh no, she broke my heart, now I’m sad” run-off-the-mill read.

While I did not have a doubt about it to begin with, Degeneraterra has really cemented Eidola, as well as the earlier mentioned label, into being a force to be reckoned with. Mainly due to the fact that I’m confident in saying that this band, just as their labelmates, truly feels the music they make and shares that enthusiasm with their listeners…it doesn’t hurt that said music moves on a very high level of intensity and ingenuity either. If I managed to make you curious, be sure to listen to their song below and head over to their Facebook page. Last but not least, make sure to keep your eyes peeled on May 5th, when this gem hits the (digital) stores!