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Dream State – Recovery


Word of mouth. It’s always been a thing but there’s no denying that the rise of social media, as well as streaming platforms, has given the term a whole new dynamic and getting your music to a wide audience has never been easier. However, this also exponentially increases the one-hit-wonder phenomenon, where a band might get a million views on their song, but follow it up with one mediocre song after the other. Long story short: today I am going to take a look at Dream State‘s new EP Recovery, which is due to be out this Friday!

With a little over three years under their belt, the quintet is still fairly fresh but this is already its second EP, with Consequences being the title of the first one, and the expectations are fairly high, since the opener has garnered above five million views on YouTube at the time of writing this review. And just to get the tension out of the room: the Brits are anything but a one hit wonder! The four remaining songs deliver exactly what enthusiasts of White Lies wanted: super melodic and energetic alternative rock, that is often venturing into post-hardcore.

While Recovery is very similar in length to its predecessor, at twenty minutes, there are two key differences: first off, the production quality is much more solid and every guitar stroke and drum beat hits that much harder and more efficiently. Secondly, and more importantly, the songwriting has vastly improved as well! The different parts flow together way better, the instrumentals have much more room to shine and no longer serve as mere backdrop to the vocals. Personally, I feel like they all stepped up their game tenfold, since some of the guitar parts will get stuck in your head after the first listen.

To be fair, the vocals are, arguably, still the major focus and rightly so, because the vocal prowess of the singer is definitely playing a major role in the band’s success. She perfectly alternates between her powerfully soulful cleans and her demolishing screams, while delivering an impeccable performance. The lyrical content deals with addiction and all the ramifications that come with trying to give it up, such as anxiety, but never dives into the negative. The result is many a memorable line and super catchy choruses that have a very uplifting tone to them.

All in all, Dream State have hands down eliminated any doubts about them not being able to follow up on their initial success, and present us with five solid tracks full of emotion, that are worth revisiting over and over. Be sure to check out the video below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information, such as their upcoming tour that features several shows with Babymetal!

The Kut – Valley Of Thorns


Perseverance. In my opinion, probably the most important quality an artist should possess, aside from talent, if they want to be successful. A little bit over eight years into their career, The Kut are finally unleashing their first full length record on the world tomorrow and I had the opportunity to have an early listen to Valley Of Thorns, so let me give you my first impressions!

For those unaware, the trio’s sound is best summed up as grunge, with an attitude. Especially the guitar sound is very reminiscent of the good old nineties with the fuzzy distortion and the bite that stems from the interplay with the bass. The drums also pack a punch when it is appropriate, but they never try to outshine the stringed instruments; a fact that strongly works in favor of these thirty-nine minutes.

While this is the first full-length of the Brits, it is worth mentioning that they have released two EPs in the past four years, and that half of the ten songs on here are from the previous releases, which I personally find a smart move. Only slight downer is the fact that the songs were re-used exactly as they were, rather than being re-recorded or freshly mixed, but since they were on a very respectable level to begin with, it doesn’t impact the entirety as much as you would fear.

While die-hard long-time fans of the band might yearn for more new material, including a, so to speak, greatest hits of the old material is a good introduction to newer fans, which I’m sure this record will attract. On the bright side: the new songs showcase an interesting evolution in the band’s sound by being more guitar-driven and generally heavier, especially the song I Am Vain.

All in all, I consider Valley Of Thorns a well-rounded record, which merges the old with the new and should open quite a few doors for The Kut in the near future! You can find more about the band on their Facebook page and get an impression of their sound below.

Royal Coda – Royal Coda


One of my favorite aspects about art in all of its forms, is that it’s dynamic and malleable: what might start as one idea, can end up being something completely different once it’s reached its final form. Today’s candidate is a prime example of such a metamorphosis, since Royal Coda, as it’s called today, was once destined to be a solo project, then turned into two-man-project and finally ended up as a three piece…but more on that in a bit. I was fortunate enough to get an early listening opportunity to the band’s self-titled debut album and I’m absolutely stoked to give you thoughts on it!

To get things rolling, let me sum up real quick what, or rather who, the band is: Sergio Medina, guitarist of Stolas, Sianvar and, very recently Eidola, had been working on a solo record for quite a while, before asking Joseph Arrington of A Lot Like Birds and Sianvar to perform the drums on it. At the time the former was also providing vocals, but as time grew he was less and less sure of his performance and, as the stars aligned, that was when he saw the potential of recruiting Kurt Travis, formerly of Dance Gavin Dance & A Lot Like Birds, as a vocalist…and that was the birth of Royal Coda.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of it! The trio’s musical direction is best described as experimental rock with a very progressive touch, which doesn’t come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the individual members’ previous work. One thing that is clear, is that each one of them brings their A-game to the table and while you can clearly recognize their unique style in their performance, none of the ten songs feel like a rehash, or even like something that would fit in any other of their projects, in the past, present or future.

From an instrumental point of view, the record has a fairly melancholic and pensive feel to it, while never truly going down a somber path, which is mostly due to the slightly more upbeat melodies and rhythms that are thrown in fairly regularly. However, the lyrics and also general vocal performance add a whole other layer of loss and separation to the spectrum.

I am fairly certain that this debut album will not appeal to everyone at first, but I can promise you that if you let these thirty-four minutes sink in, you will be rewarded with one brilliantly composed, and produced, emotional ride. I think a prime example of that is the track See Them Faceless, which has an incredible build-up with extremely complex drum patterns, a catchy guitar melody before and one of my favorite vocal melodies during the chorus. Still gives me goosebumps after the umpteenth listen.

I feel like that this debut album must have been of a mostly (self)therapeutic nature to the involved musicians and while I do love that type of record a lot, I am even more excited to see what the future holds for Royal Coda! In order to keep in touch with what’s going on with them, head over to their Facebook page and make sure to give the song below a play, to tide you over until April 27th, when this beauty is unleashed.

King Goat – Debt Of Aeons


As the saying goes: everything comes in threes. Today marks the third review of a band’s third release, in a row, and I could not be happier to end this hat-trick with a genre I only dabble in very rarely: doom metal! Ever since giving them a go four years ago, King Goat have managed to tickle my fancy for the genre, and since their new full-length Debt Of Aeons is just around the corner, it seems only fitting for me to take an early look at it and try to whet your appetite!

I’ll just be upfront: I already held high praise for the quintet’s previous record, because it was a serious step up from its predecessor, but I will have to add some more of it, since they managed to outdo themselves in virtually every aspect. The six songs, seven if you count the interlude, still have that sense of grandeur and all-enveloping atmosphere about them, but they also come with a new layer of je ne sais quoi. I want to say that it’s an even better understanding of songwriting than previously, but it could also stem from the incredibly well-done mixing.

The afore-mentioned improved songwriting is clearly palpable in the way the songs are structured: away with entire songs being devoted to one direction, be it calm or heavy, and welcome to, on average, eight minute epics that take you a journey through time. The album also packs the shortest song the band has written to date, which at the same time marks their first instrumental track, and it shows quite nicely that they can definitely build up tension without spending close to ten minutes on it.

While these forty-eight minutes, without a doubt, hold my favorite riffs of KG thus far and the drums have also gotten a much more prominent role in the band’s soundscape, it is still the singer that hammers home how much potential these guys hold in their grasp, to make it big. I’ve raved about him in the past but I can only repeat myself: the range this man has, just blows me away and I even feel like it has expanded just a tad bit further this time around. There is a scream on the title track that gives me the chills every time I hear it…truly good stuff!

There’s not much more to say other than what I said last time: this is how you advance as a band, by bettering every aspect as much as you possibly can and never giving up. Honestly, if you are even the slightest into metal and want to support a bunch of talented musicians, do yourself a favor and listen to Debt Of Aeons when it’s released this Friday, April 20th, and let King Goat take you on a little trip! For more information you can visit the band’s Facebook page and check out the lyric video below!

Not Scientists – Golden Staples


What always makes me happy is when I meet touring bands, that I’ve reviewed in the past, again, and we catch up and I maybe get the latest scoop on an upcoming endeavor. Such was the case with Not Scientists, who I had the chance to catch last November at a local gig, and I was delighted when one of their vocalists told me that they’d be releasing a new full-length in early spring of next year…so this year! And here we are now, a few days before the release of Golden Staples and I’m delighted to give you a first impression of it in written form!

It comes as no surprise that the Frenchies stay true to their minutely refined sound; quite the contrary I’m very glad that they do! Since I was a big fan of their mix of melancholic, yet happy-seeming, punk rock from the get go and I couldn’t have imagined anything that would have been a logical, read functioning, extension of it. Especially because, contrary to Mister Malmsteen’s beliefs, sometimes less is more after all.

What I like best about the quartet, is their ability to make you recognize them immediately, yet bring enough variation to the table among the ten songs, to avoid boredom or saturation and even have several eyebrow-raising moments. One of those is the inclusion of, what I think is, a Güiro on the song Sky On Fire; especially because it’s fairly inaudible at first and during the end of the song it really hits you right in the face.

Alongside the gleefully-sad instrumentation, the lyrical themes have also generally stayed the same, with memorable choruses with sing-along qualities that make you smile on one side of your face and shed a tear on the other half. The one thing that has changed is the production of the record: while I commended the choice of a rawer approach on Destroy To Rebuild, I think I like the more polished sound on this one more after all. You are also treated to the longest song the band has written thus far, clocking in at a little under six minutes, and it’s without a doubt the perfect closer to a great album. Fun fact: at thirty-seven minutes, twenty seconds, the new album clocks in at exactly thirteen seconds less than its predecessor.

All in all, Not Scientists might not have changed or evolved a lot, but personally I am a strong defender of the “why change a winning team” philosophy, so I am absolutely satisfied with Golden Staples, and I sincerely hope that you will be too! So, if you’re ever going on a roadtrip, make sure to bring this one along, since it has an opener that will bring a smile to your face, guaranteed! For more information, you can head to the band’s Facebook page and be sure to listen to the song below!

Lost In Pain – Gold Hunters


Something that never ceases to amaze me, even after many years of listening to and writing about music, is how artists always find ways to improve on something that has already been good to begin with. Sometimes I can exactly pinpoint what I feel is the biggest addition, but more often than not I am not quite sure what makes me like a release better than its predecessor; maybe it’s just because it’s new? I am pleased to present you one of these cases today, since Lost In Pain are about to release their third full-length, Gold Hunters, this Saturday!

First off, let me get one thing out of the way: almost ten years into its existence, the quartet has definitely shed its undeniable initial inspiration, from a certain Bay Area band, and matured into its own sound. While it’s still essentially thrash metal, there are a lot more experimental and even progressive touches to be found this time around, which elevate all the compositions onto a new level.

I’ve praised it in the past, but in this case I don’t mind repeating myself: LiP‘s feel for writing a coherent song, with recognizable parts and catchy hooks, never fails to impress. The eight tracks are chock-full with all kinds of riffs, ranging from headbang-inducing groovy to neckbreaking heavy, that are a pure joy to discover with all their little intricacies. I feel like the guitarists’ skill has even further improved, or maybe it’s just a matter of having a different goal while writing, but what I can tell you is that I would point towards that being a major factor why I like GH even more than Plague Inc.. The mind-blowing solos are, of course, back with a vengeance as well.

The drums have also seen an improvement, in two different ways: first off, to me, they have slowly moved out of the shadows and they’re stepping further into the foreground and, secondly, they just sound so much richer and imposing. The latter is also absolutely the case for the bass, which just sounds really good and is in great tandem with the percussive elements throughout the forty-one minutes.

The vocals are the only thing that I found to have remained fairly stagnant, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since I already liked the improved performance a lot the last time around. I would say that the technique has been solidified and, along with the great production quality, the vocals are in a very good place.

To sum things up, I would say that Lost In Pain have matured very well, and that Gold Hunters is a more than worthy successor to their 2015 endeavor. But why talk, or write, more when you can simply listen to the first single below and visit the band’s Facebook page for additional information? Also, if you like what you hear, be sure to move your booty to Rockhal this Saturday, April 7th, where the band is playing a release show!

Hungover – Wilt


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the one thing I love the most about my reviewing hobby is being introduced to music that I, probably, wouldn’t find otherwise. Especially bands that might only have a solid fanbase in their country or city, but still harbor a ton of talent and potential. Today’s artist definitely falls into that category, because according to their Facebook-like-count Hungover are fairly small, yet their debut EP Wilt packs everything that big and famous bands have…and then some.

Technically-speaking, it’s not their debut per se: it’s actually a remastered re-release, with three additional tracks, of an EP with the same name that was released two years ago, but the new mix gives the old songs a brand new shine that makes them seem completely fresh. The band’s sound is as pop punk as it can get, with all of its trademark aspects like mid-tempo verses and high-tempo choruses, but well-written and well-executed with enough recognizability to set it apart from many of the other bands in the genre.

While the instrumentation is solid is solid throughout the twenty-seven minutes, but nothing that has never been done before, the vocals stand out that much more, at least to me. I’m sure this comparison has been done ad nauseam, but I can’t go without bringing it up as well; sorry: if I hadn’t looked at the band members’ names beforehand, I could have sworn that Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy was the vocalist! This guy’s voice, especially his highs, and even the rhythm is so similar that it’s almost scary.

Lyrically, the eight tracks deal with the typical topics that can be found in this genre: separation, teen angst and lovesickness among others. But for some reason they hit me hard when I first heard them, which goes to show that even a topic that has been sung about a million times, can still have an effect if it’s packaged nicely.

There is one minor caveat that I can’t get my around though, and that is the fact that for some reason the vocals on the three new songs have a really weird mix, giving them an auto-tuned or pitch-shifted quality, which really put me off at first. After countless listens I’ve learned to ignore it most of the time, but especially in Exit – Stage Left there are parts that still occasionally make me cringe.

Aside from that one shortcoming, Wilt is an EP that I would recommend every pop punk lover or newcomer to the genre, because it has everything you are looking for to satisfy your musical thirst. You can head over to the band’s Facebook page and check out the video below to get an impression of their sound. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled on Friday when the quintet releases this baby to the public!

Desdemonia – Anguish


The death metal titans from Luxembourg, Desdemonia, are finally back with a new album in tow! With a career of over twenty years and this only being their fourth release, the quartet might be one of the slowest bands out there when it comes to output. But I’d like to tell you whether they’re like a good wine, and the wait for Anguish was worth the while, or not!

If you are familiar with the band’s previous work, one motto springs immediately to mind when you put on the new record: why change a winning team? The trademark Desdemonia sound shines in all its glory, but with a fresh coat of paint slapped on it, which truly revitalizes the band’s modus operandi. The drums sound and feel like a tank that’s relentlessly mowing down everything in its path, and their ferocity is only rivaled by the bite of the guitars.

It is worth noting that the string department has seen a slight change of personnel, and the new guitarist has definitely brought in a breath of fresh air, while also understanding and maintaining the sound that makes the band sound the way it does. Endless Fight, the song below, is a prime example of a combination of both worlds: crushing riffs on one hand, and on the other hand a melodic aspect that lifts the song to a whole new level. Hell, there’s even a freaking harmonic part in there!

I feel like the guys didn’t set out to re-invent the wheel with these nine songs, but instead put a fresh set of tires on there, and oil it up nicely…and boy did they achieve that. The new material will still make you want to bang your head until you suffer from severe whiplash, but it also provides, dare I say, growl-along choruses that will incite a lot of crowd participation at gigs.

You can’t speak about Desdemonia without mentioning the powerhouse that is their vocalist, and bassist, who delivers another stellar performance during these almost forty-eight minutes. Truly vile growls go hand in hand with soul-shattering screams that round off this thrilling death metal ride just perfectly. The icing on the cake is a really massive production, that lets every note rip even harder into your eardrums.

All in all, the fans’ wait is without a doubt being rewarded and the quartet delivers another strong entry into their catalogue, despite it having taken them eight years. Make sure to listen to the song below, and head over the band’s Facebook page for more information regarding the release. Since it’s being split in two, so to speak: the official release and a listening party will be held this Friday at Rock Solid; and a release show will take place on April 14th at Kulturfabrik! See you there, when it’s time to schalalalala!

Mike Litoris Complot – The Art Of Pony Party

Goregrind. What can I say? It’s one of those genres that never strongly appealed to me, but also one that didn’t put me off completely. A song here and there was actually quite welcome since I liked the straight-forward attitude, however I couldn’t subject myself to much more than that at a time. This has all changed now, since I “had to” listen to Mike Litoris Complot’s debut album The Art Of Pony Party at least once in its entirety in order to review it. Funny thing is: once turned into twice, into thrice, and from there on I stopped counting. Let me tell you why!

First off, I should say that MLC is not strictly goregrind, but instead takes elements of it, fuses them with slam and adds a major dose of humor. Resulting in this weird, but highly entertaining, aural potpourri, where childlike vocals transition into pig squeals and evolve into frog noises. This combination is not necessarily a first, as far as I know, since there is an entire underground scene and even a relatively large festival that revolves around those ingredients in one way or another. But what really makes the sextet stand out to me is the fact that their songs actually have a lot of substance, which honestly surprised me. I wouldn’t exactly call them symphonic masterpieces but the amount of diversity and standout elements is truly captivating.

There are tons of influences, or maybe parodies, throughout the twelve songs that can be discovered with every subsequent listen-through. A thrash gallop riff will be followed by a pure open-string slam attack and end in an almost pop-sounding chord, allowing almost no room to catch your breath, or gather your thoughts. The drumming is fairly straight-forward, with lots of blasting and tons of double-bass barrages, yet never monotonous. The entire ensemble is wrapped in a tight but natural production and knows exactly how to deliver the goods to the listener: right in the face.

As mentioned earlier, the vocals are all over the place and both singers alternate between their styles perfectly, creating an immersive experience during these forty-six minutes of madness. Lyrically, I don’t know what to tell you…it’s certainly nor radio- or child-friendly, but if you can take the band as serious as they take themselves, you’ll be fine. The titles alone are guaranteed to send mothers and priests across the globe into spastic fits, with classics such as Gangbang Abortion or Orphan Crippler.

All in all, The Art Of Pony Party is definitely a surprisingly well-rounded debut album with very little to no complaints, and I’m sure that Mike Litoris Complot will make waves in the goregrind scene, and perhaps beyond, if they get the necessary and well-deserved coverage. You can listen to the song Circus SlammyGranny below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more info. And last but not least, consider moving your bum to the Schungfabrik this Saturday, March 17th, where the guys will release this banger!

Top 10 2017 by Yannick

Another year comes to an end and while it has, arguably, had the lowest of lows in the history of mankind in some areas, it has also stood for acceptance and social evolution in many other areas. However, what is truly relevant at least on this platform is the music…and it has definitely been another strong year with many brilliant releases. I’m here to give you my personal top 10, which will, again, include a majority of records that I didn’t get to review.

#10 While She Sleeps – You Are We

I’ve seen WSS live twice over the past few years and while I was always impressed by their energetic and spot-on performance, their albums never really convinced me. However, with You Are We the quintet have definitely hit a new level and managed to put themselves not only on my radar but gained my deep appreciation.

#9 Paramore – After Laughter

What started out as a crush on the lead singer all those years ago when Misery Business was released, developed into a real fascination with their music by the time they released their self-titled record five years ago. Naturally when they announced a new record, I was fairly excited and looking forward to their evolution; and After Laughter did not disappoint: not only was the music fresh, but the songs were also lyrically very honest, at times even too much.

#8 Taylor Swift – Reputation

Well. How do I put this? After buying the previous record when Shake It Off was released, I realized that it’s actually great pop! When the first single off the new one was released I felt a bit disappointed but I decided to give the record a chance anyways…and I was rewarded. It’s debatable, but I would say that this is her best record to that. Give it a shot, seriously!

#7 Adventurer – Sacred Grove (review)

When I first discovered Adventurer, around three years ago, I was immediately enamored with their chaotic yet highly melodic sound, reminiscent of The Fall Of Troy. Naturally, I was super hyped for their, at the time already announced, full-length album…but it took until fairly recently to be released. And the wait was definitely worth the while! You can read more thoughts on it in my review.

#6 Andrés – Strange Memories On This Nervous Night

By far my biggest surprise-discovery this year was Andrés! His tongue-in-cheek lyrics, his charismatic performances and his pure talent simply shine in every corner of his debut solo album! I had the chance to meet him earlier this year in London and I’m confident in saying that the future will hold some big things for this dude. Get on the hype train before it’s too late!

#5 Wolf & Bear – Everything Is Going Grey

Let’s not kid ourselves…pretty much every Blue Swan release will usually make it on my top 10. The second one on the list, so far, is the debut album of Wolf & Bear, a band that is fairly similar to Dance Gavin Dance in terms of their setup (they even share the same bassist), but are different altogether in their song structures and sound. This one has been on heavy rotation for quite a while on my playlist.

#4 Asking Alexandria – Asking Alexandria

Another, so to speak, surprise entry: the fifth full-length by Asking Alexandria was just released five days ago, but I can safely say that the return of their original singer was the best thing that could happen to the band. A re-vitalized sound, a very open-minded songwriting and a lot of weird, but good, stylistic choices make the self-titled album a force to be reckoned with and put the quintet back on the map.

#3 Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence

When Trivium released their screamless Silence In The Snow, I accepted their change of direction and was ready to follow them down that path. But when the first teaser for their eighth studio album was released, I knew that I might have lied to myself at the time. Because THIS is what I first loved about the band: a perfect blend of heavy and melodic with loads and loads of details to be discovered with every subsequent listen. TSATS is the epitome of what this band is about and I can only recommend it to everyone!

#2 Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights

This one is a bit weird for me…since I haven’t even listened to it more than ten times. But I feel like it deserves a spot this far up simply for what it did to me on every single listen. Julien Baker‘s debut album already affected me deeply, but Turn Out The Lights is one a whole new level. It is not for everyone, but for me it was a very cathartic experience that I believe should be had by everyone.

EP-Special
Eternity Forever – Fantasy
Hail The Sun – Secret Wars
Happy Hour – What’s Your Poison
Push Over – Demo

I know, I know, I’m kind of bending my own fictitious rules here…but this year saw the release of quite a few really solid EPs, that I think deserve a quick shout-out! Two of those feature one of my favorite vocalists, Kurt Travis, and they are both very different. The, sadly, already defunct Eternity Forever is one of the dreamiest things I’ve gotten to hear all year and Push Over is a fun project with Thomas Erak, of TFOT. Happy Hour is another very DGD-y band, but they managed to stand out to me because of some very unusual elements like a reggae part in one song. Another band that I have fairly high hopes for. And last, but certainly not least, is Hail The Sun‘s new release Secret Wars, which has them going back to their roots, so to speak and just delivers on every single level. What a treat!

#1 A Lot Like Birds – Divisi (review)
Sufferer – Sufferer
Eidola – To Speak, To Listen (review)

While last year had a clear winner, this year I will have to settle for a three-way tie. I’ve written reviews about two of these, so I will just say a few words about the one that eluded me. In the past I’ve dealt with anxiety quite a bit and, while I never dove into real depression, it has definitely made many aspects of my life fairly difficult and it was a real struggle to overcome the hard times. While I have managed to rid myself of the majority of those things on my own, Sufferer is a record that, I feel, can serve as a form of self-therapy to some people out there. (note: of course it does not replace actual therapy) It certainly put a lot of things into perspective for me and, besides, it is just a phenomenal work of musical art.

All in all, I really enjoyed the dynamic this year. I was a bit more active, writing fifteen reviews, and I managed to cover all the local releases that were relevant, to me. However, looking into the future at the moment is a bit weird since, aside from a new Dance Gavin Dance record, I have very few albums I’m actively looking forward to…maybe 2018 will be the year of surprises!