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Tag Archives: USA

Eidola – To Speak, To Listen

Eidola - To Speak, To Listen
Two years ago, I discovered a band through a song off their back then unreleased second full-length and was so impressed that I blindly ordered their debut and pre-ordered the sophomore. My expectations were not met, but completely exceeded by Degeneraterra and it stayed on repeat for quite a while, which is why I was beyond excited when Eidola announced that they were already going to release a follow-up to it in 2017. Fast forward a little while to when I was granted early access to To Speak, To Listen and try imagining my amazement when I first listened to the phenomenal, albeit short, opener The Abstract Of A Planet In Resolve.

Basically, the quintet took everything I loved about the previous album and turned the dial to the max, despite it already being at eleven. Eidola is, to me, all about complexity, melody and diversity, all wrapped into truly solid songwriting and embellished with a really powerful sound. I can say without a doubt that all those boxes have been ticked on my checklist, and I can’t even begin to explain how they’ve improved, but I’ll try: every single instrument is bringing their A-game, with the drumming probably being my favorite element this time around, the levels of groove and crazy footwork along with the innumerable tiny accents and fills just blew me away every single time I’ve put these twelve songs on. And that has been close to three digits…don’t judge me.

The melodic aspect comes in the form of, what I feel, way catchier choruses and individual parts than on the predecessor. The musical diversity is more or less at the same level, but even more tightly woven together by the songwriting: in spite of there being many changes in tempo, intensiveness and general vibe during the different tracks, it never once feels awkward or forced, a feat that really allows you to dive into the experience. This is even further facilitated by the glass-clean production which allows you to distinguish every single note of each and every instrument without any great effort. To give you an idea: I am a long-standing sufferer of the “I can’t hear the bass guitar”-syndrome, but I feel like the bass on TSTL and I get along just fine.

Obviously, I can’t finish this review without at least dropping a few lines about the vocals: you are still treated to a wonderful mix of screams and cleans, but I feel like they have both gained in prowess and fierceness. Especially the clean vocals have even further expanded their range, most notably in the upper register, and the screams are more predominantly represented during the fifty-two minutes than what you are previously used to. Lyrically, Eidola still wander on a fairly esoteric level, with mature topics and well-written lines, which is not always the best sing along material, but sometimes it’s better -not- To Speak, and just To Listen. Thank you, I’m here all week.

What can I say? The guys from Utah have recorded a masterpiece and I can’t wait to finally be able to show it to my friends and talk about it on June 2nd, when To Speak, To Listen is officially released. There is not a single doubt in my mind that Eidola is the next Blue Swan Records band to make the jump to a bigger label! Until then, support the band, buy their music and go see their shows…or at least like them on Facebook and jam the song below. Infinite love!

A Lot Like Birds – Divisi

A Lot Like Birds - Divisi
If a band loses their vocalist, fans usually start to worry who the replacement is going to be and how that person will impact the music. In the case of A Lot Like Birds, they simply decided to not look for a new band member, but instead had their screamer take vocal lessons in order to take over clean vocals and their bassist revealed that he has the voice of an angel…but I’m getting ahead of myself. On May 5th, the guys’ fourth full-length, Divisi, was released and I am going to try to explain to you why separation can be a positive thing.

Since the record has been out for almost two weeks, this is going to be somewhat of a mix between a review and a retrospective, since it’s apparent that the reaction to the most recent release could not be more polarized. The thing that many listeners fear when it comes to their favorite artists, is change, or rather too much change. Obviously, evolution is necessary in order to avoid staleness and repetition, but when a band almost throws everything overboard that their fans loved about them, it is a natural consequence that the opinions will range from one end of the spectrum to the other opposite one. In this case, this means that there are barely any screams left, and the instrumentation is a lot less erratic and, at first glance, less complex; arguably three of the main pillars in the sound of the quintet.

But first impressions can deceive: the fourth pillar and at the same time the core element of ALLB has always been emotion. And I can say without a doubt that the amount of feels that these twelve songs bring along, is hard to quantify. Especially since they are not only limited to the lyrics but are also brought to the surface by the incredible songwriting, which is in no way as bland as many first-time listeners thought. It is true that, generally-speaking, every instrument is playing less notes in short succession and that the songs have less tempo changes and whatever other crazy stuff you would find in the band’s previous material; but that does not have to be a bad thing.

This record is definitely a grower, that will only get better the more often you listen to it and thus start analyzing the different instrumental parts, or backing vocals or discovering the smallest details about it, like a howling dog in the background of a song. And don’t get me start on complexity: do yourself a favor and dedicate an entire listening to just paying attention to the drums and you will change your opinion. There might be more fills than feels during these forty-seven minutes, and that is saying something.

Last but not least, the big elephant in the room: the vocals or rather the, almost, total lack of screams. The frontman’s clean singing is definitely on a new level and it blends really well into the new sound, and I knew before going in that there would not be any screams on here, since the band mentioned it somewhere on the internet. Which is why I had major goosebumps on my first listen during the two instances where there -were- screams: it just fit like a glove. In hindsight, after having listened to the record about forty times…I’m OK with there not being more screams, since it fits the ensemble. The best thing to come out of the aforementioned separation, though, is hands-down the inclusion of the bassist in the vocal department: the man’s got pipes and so many brilliant lines on Divisi. Solo project please!

In closing, I hope that I was able to change your opinion or at least stir your interest in this record, since it really is worth discovering and listening to repeatedly. You can find more info on the band’s Facebook page and get your very first impression in the video below!

Devil You Know – They Bleed Red


Quick fact about myself: ever since I got into Killswitch Engage around 2009, I’ve become quite a huge fan of their music. Naturally, I was a bit devastated when their singer Howard Jones left the band in 2012 due to medical reasons. It turned out to be be a blessing in disguise, when their original vocalist eventually returned to the band, but that’s the point of this story. Jones was officially no longer in the music business, and I was quite saddened because I consider him to be one of the most unique and strongest singers in metalcore. Fast forward to 2014, when I learned that the man himself was back with a new band called Devil You Know, who were about to release their debut record, The Beauty Of Destruction. Despite my high hopes for the record, I wasn’t really convinced by the instrumental side of it, since it was a bit generic and lackluster, only being above average due to the vocal performance. Little did I know that merely a year later, the quartet would surprise with a fresh album called They Bleed Red, which is the subject of today’s review!

After that lengthy introduction, I should really just cut to the chase: it’s a major step up from its predecessor! The songwriting has vastly improved and actually has numerous memorable riffs and hooks that embedded themselves in my head even after the first listen. The heavy parts are truly in your face and guaranteed to instigate many vicious moshpits as well as enthusiastic headbanging! The technical level has also definitely been raised, providing more than just mere background noise to the vocals. The same goes for the melodic side of these eleven tracks, which frankly has a much catchier aspect to it.

The fact that the production packs a by far fiercer punch than before is just an added bonus to these already neckbreaking forty-seven minutes. All this provides the perfect stage, so to speak, for the afore-mentioned vocal prowess present on this record. It goes without saying that HoJo nails it and actually delivers, what I feel is, his strongest performance to date. The amount of face-melting screams and growls on TBR just can’t be put into words, it’s that good.

To sum things up, Devil You Know have definitely saved face with their new record and proven that they are a force in the making to be reckoned with. At the time of writing this review I am, as a matter of fact, going to see them live in three days, so I’m twice as excited as before to witness their performance! Check out the song below, which admittedly is one of my least favorite on here, and visit the band’s Facebook profile for more info!

Trivium – Silence In The Snow


After BMTH have drastically changed their style, it is now time to write about yet another band that has strayed quite far from its roots. Trivium has always been an ensemble whose music I’ve greatly appreciated for the most part, but their new record Silence In The Snow has taken a very different path from what I was expecting. Let’s see what has happened, shall we?

The quartet started in metalcore, and has constantly expanded its musical range by adding new elements and also removing some…but never in their fifteen year history has the evolution been this drastic. Well…almost. The band’s third record The Crusade had the lead singer mostly refrain from screaming, especially live, because he blew his voice while constantly being on tour and not having a proper technique. Along with that, the music felt a bit too much like a cheap Metallica copy and it is with no doubt my least favorite release of the band.

On subsequent albums he had not only regained his screams but also vastly improved his range and vocal power, resulting in amazing works of art and live shows. But apparently he damaged his voice again in 2014 and was thus forced to refrain from screaming again. Which is why, I suppose, the band chose to go a different route with their seventh release: no screams at all. The reaction to this decision has been very mixed so far, as was mine at first…but Superman damn it: it works! And how!

Logically, this also has a small influence on the instrumental side of things, but not as much as you’d think. Trivium still very much sounds like the fans have grown to love them, but the focus is clearly more on melody and, for lack of a better word, grandeur. The eleven songs all have this majestic feel to them, while at the same time remaining heavy; albeit having less of a “mosh-along” vibe. The only minor gripe I have is that some more technical aspects have gone missing in the process.

Now, onto the main change: the vocals. There is not a single scream, growl, shout or anything alike during these forty-three minutes and everything is kept in clean singing. However, the sheer vocal range of the singer has so vastly improved that it doesn’t feel like that much of a loss. But I have to admit that there were a handful of passages where I would have expected and loved the guitarist to maybe add a little growl here and there, simply because I kept waiting for it. On the other hand, I have to quote the latter: “you don’t need screams to be heavy”, and I have to agree 100%.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt Silence In The Snow will divide the ranks of Trivium fans, but to the naysayers I can only say: the old records did not disappear from the face of the earth, so feel free to go back and enjoy them! I, on the other hand, embrace this change wholeheartedly and while it probably won’t be my favorite record by them, I will fully support them! So be sure to listen to the track below and head over to their Facebook page if you want to do the same.

Kali Uchis – Por Vida

Kali Uchis is an exciting Colombian artist raised in the USA who has been around since 2012 when her first mixtape dropped, but has only moved into the spotlight in 2014 following the release of the first single off her first LP Por Vida. The album came out in February this year and since discovering it a bit late I haven’t been able to free myself from its spell.

Kali’s musical style is an interesting mix of influences that I haven’t heard in this form before. Her voice is all sultry and soulful and is backed by a sound that can be best described as an experimental cross between vintage bubblegum pop and R&B combined with some serious hiphop vibes (not least because she’s had really cool and well-known support coming from hiphop backgrounds for this album, such as Tyler the Creator and BADBADNOTGOOD). She also flirts with reggae elements, most notably in Know What I Want, and her Latin American roots definitely take hold in her music. It’s all over the place but blends in together so nicely!

Lyrically, Kali’s moments of sass are irresistible: “Fuck me over, I’ll fuck you worse and take off to Japan”. She also has a knack for analogies, which is evident in Melting, Lottery and Loner, the slower numbers on this record.

In rough outlines, Por Vida is composed of saccharine love ballads, smooth hang out jams and bouncy late night tunes to feel like a million bucks to. While still decidedly making up an accessible pop album, every single one of the 9 tracks is unique and strays from the usual boring recycled mainstream pop formula. I sure love a well-crafted pop record – definitely don’t miss this artist if you feel the same! Find her on Facebook and stream the album on Soundcloud.

Slaves – Routine Breathing


Wow! Talk about being productive! It’s been a little over a year since Slaves have released their debut, but they already have a follow-up which came out on August 21st, titled Routine Breathing. Productivity doesn’t always equal quality though, so let’s see what the guys have come up with!

First off, I find that the songwriting has greatly improved, with each track being memorable than the last one, even though I found this album to be more of a grower than a shower, so to speak. While a few catchy parts stood out to me on my first listen, it wasn’t until my fifth or so round that I was able to actively differentiate between the various songs…but the investment was well worth the while. Because the substance of the fifteen songs is quite enormous.

Whereas the instruments on Through Art We Are Equals were more of a backdrop to Jonny’s singing, they all play their own role this time around but still don’t overshadow the, arguably, core of the band. Several riffs really impressed me when I first heard them, and now I always look forward to the part they kick in. The same goes for the drumming, which is still played rather purposefully, instead of showing off…but it simply delivers more strongly than on the predecessor.

As I mentioned above, the main reason, I think, we all listen to Slaves in the first place is found behind the mic…and fuck me running if it isn’t an amazing reason for us fans to enjoy album number two. The performance Jonny puts forth on these fifty-one minutes is beyond astounding and, even though I said that last time already, is the strongest in his career thus far. The sheer emotion and power that can be felt in every note is what firmly cements his place at the top of all the singers out there, in my book.

However, same as last time around, the band must have felt that even a strong voice can need some back-up, which is why they got several guest singers to perform on four tracks: Garret Rapp of The Color Morale, Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath, Kyle Lucas and Tilian Pearson of Dance Gavin Dance. Especially the latter delivers such a heartwarming performance on the song Winter Everywhere that I seriously hope that in due time there will be another co-lab of these two former and current DGD singers.

All in all, Routine Breathing is anything but what its name suggests…because I’ve been heavy breathing the entire time. The Californians outdid themselves on the whole line, and have without even a second of doubt delivered an album that is a worthy contender in my top five. But don’t just take my word for it! Check out the song below, and if you like what you hear, head over to the band’s Facebook page to get information about where you can buy the record!

Colorbred – Synergy


As an independent reviewer, there is nothing more gratifying than having a band, young or old, write you an e-mail asking for a review because they’ve read one of your articles and liked it. In my case, I usually agree without any questions asked but it definitely helps if the genre is something I actually dig myself…such is the case with today’s band: Colorbred, a three-piece that has found together over the internet. They are releasing their debut EP Synergy on July 26th and were kind enough to provide me with a very early digital copy!

Having had more than enough time to go heart to heart with the six tracks, I’ve actually grown to love the guys’ approach to post-hardcore. While it is not really innovative, since it is largely inspired by bands such as Dance Gavin Dance, Sianvar and Hail The Sun, it is clear that they are a talented bunch and the fact that they openly cite those bands as their inspirations is also a plus. Honesty is key and, as I always say, it’s better to create a good copy than a bad original…even more so when it comes to the first steps as a band.

These seventeen minutes are also a beautiful testimony to what the internet can achieve, other than providing tons of amusing cat videos, since the singer, who also plays guitar, is from Spain and the bassist and drummer are from two different states in the US…yet they’ve managed to come up with a dynamic and varied handful of songs, which is something that some bands, where the members live in the same town can’t always claim. The tracks all have a very dreamy, yet intense, atmosphere, with interestingly playful melodies and just the right amount of technical spice to keep things lively.

One truly charismatic factor in the mix is the vocal performance. Because not only does the singer have a fairly wide range and generally speaking great pipes; he also comes with a charming accent that makes his voice quite unique in my opinion. I am also quite impressed by his feel for vocal melodies and the chorus and bridge of Green Eyes is a great example that he also has a talent for catchy lyrics.

All in all, Colorbred have managed to write a strong debut EP, especially considering the fact they’ve only been in existence for six months. While there is definitely air for improvement, you would have to be a total ignoramus if you didn’t recognize the talent that they bring to the table. The fact that they’ve recruited a fourth member, a guitarist, also promises great things, with the only major step left being actually “moving in” together and start playing shows….but one step after the another. For more information, head over to the band’s Facebook page and if you enjoy the song below, why not throw a like their way? Enjoy!

August Burns Red – Found In Far Away Places


In 2013 I had a tough time choosing my top five albums of the year…so I just picked four as my number one. Two years later, one of those four bands has released the follow-up to their previous masterpiece and my excitement couldn’t have been greater: I am talking about August Burns Red, who have released their sixth full-length, Found In Far Away Places, on June 29th!

What can I say? The quintet has definitely found its sound on the predecessor, that much is certain, because these eleven songs are very much in the same vein, albeit a bit more akin to their old material: the experimentation and diversity factor are two things that were maintained, but chugging parts are back with a vengeance; creating a truly eclectic feeling, with a ton of depth.

I could go over how well the Pennsylvanians master their instruments…but that’s as much of a known fact than that the sun sets in the west. So let me just reassure you: nothing that changed in that department…every musician pushes his technical prowess to the limit and the songwriting is very multifaceted. But, at least that’s what I think, what ABR has mastered over the course of the past two records, is the implementation of atypical instruments, without them sounding out of place or even breaking the flow of the other instruments. It is a rare feat in my opinion to make a trumpet, a clarinet, a cello, a violin, and a piano feel right at home in a metalcore song…but it works so well during these fifty-two minutes.

The vocals and lyrical themes are also in line with the band’s previous works, featuring a strong performance from both screamers and highly interesting topics, with a hint of Christianity, that are just a blast to listen to. This is something I have mentioned previously, but it’s one of the major reasons why I love this band: even though they are openly religious, I have not once felt like they try to force their faith on their listeners, be it through their lyrics or anything else. Another fact worth mentioning is that FIFAP contains the second vocal guest appearance in the band’s twelve year history…and they got none other than Jeremy McKinnon from A Day To Remember to perform on Ghosts.

All in all, to me this new record does not exceed Rescue & Restore but it is a very worthy equal…but I think that this is mostly due to the fact that I connected more with the themes on the previous record. Musically-speaking, Found In Far Away Places is just as strong and will bring many hours of discovery to fans and newcomers alike. So, be sure to listen to the song below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information!

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…?