Almost 14 years ago, a dark sign of oppression and unfreedom was pulled down in Berlin. Ladies and gentlemen, the man who gets all the girls, the legend who unified two peoples and who destroyed communism.
The Sword are getting mature, a development that lots of people use to lay back and relax a bit. The stoner-metal-heads from Austin, Texas have a quite different view considering matureness. Apocryphon is less thrashy than its predecessors: their stoner-metal is more straightforward, or let’s call it “easier to follow”, but still very agile and filigree, with the songs standing before the concept this time.
Yet, experiments like psychedelic parts, jam-like passages of even electronic intros (Turbowolf’s Let’s Die says hello in the closing song) are still very welcome in The Sword’s sound, which feels like a symbiosis between Age of Winters and Warp Riders, featuring a new drummer who does a considerable job, well harmonising with the bass. For the rest, the familiar stoner songs rotate with those of the metal species, sometimes even combined with a nice portion of blues, as can be heard in The Hidden Masters.
As already mentioned, The Sword displays the “less is more” credo, which especially benefits the stoner lovers amongst the listeners, being supplied with more riffs and less speed (which doesen’t mean at all that they have become “slow” in any way). The quartet of course hasn’t changed into a Kyuss tribute band, or something like this. Classic metal is still omnipresent, call it “Black Sabbath-esque”, or call it “Ozzy-ish”, or whatever The Sword have been compared to since they have shown up, their signature is still kept up.
For those, who love the thrashy parts, Apocryphon may be some kind of disappointment. For those, who are more in favour of stony and groovy metal, this album will be worth a buy.
Recommendations: The Veil Of Isis, Cloak Of Feathers, Apocryphon
Another proposal from one of our dear twitter followers. Well…not much to comment on…it is kind of calming to know that you guys are at least as bananas as we are. Thanks to @x3nu_lu!
A little hardcore/punk bastard entered my room, entered my turntable, entered my brain and left everything in a complete disaster. This dog’s teeth are sharp like razor blades. This John Coffey would surely have crushed that god damn rat with just one hand. Bright Companions was recorded in Sweden’s famous Gröndahl studio by Refused producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, and it surely has benefited from this. The album combines screamo/hardcore attacks with some party punk parts, making many hooks extremely playful and fun to hear, hard rock riffs included.
Tunes like Me vs. I are those kinds of songs you just expect first when entering some sordid whiskey bar in the Netherlands. The guys from Utrecht really have a good feeling about sing-along refrains and kick-ass riffs. No matter how often you may have heard things like these, those Dutchman know how to make you listen to it for the one millionth time. Oh, oh Calamity ends with a melancholic farewell melody after the omnipresent vocals have raped you for nearly four minutes, children chant (from Gunnerfeldt’s own children) attracts your attention before Johnny Boy kicks in the door, punching you in the face once again while opening Featherless Redheads.
Lot’s of 90s in here too, say hello to The Offspring and Refused, but the foreground features way more John Coffey than any of the bands used for comparison. Or to put it differently: this Dutch bastard is way more likely to wear leather jackets than the boys from Sweden or California.
By the way, do song titles like I’ve Got A Bastard Virus I don’t Even Know Where It Came From even need any more comments? It has already been written, but beware of these vocals, the more you progress the more they will eat your ears. This album has got no bouncer songs; it is a bouncer album in its whole. Press the STOP button, spit some blood, and press the PLAY button again.
Recommendations: Me vs. I, Featherless Redheads, Romans
Another chapter in the long book called “Modern bands that sound like old ones”. You may not be the kind of person claiming that everything was better in the past, but this certainly will have the potential to remind you of the good old times. I’ll really try not to make too many allusions to a very well known English band formed in ’68.
It will, however, be inevitable to think of Robert, Jimmy, John Paul and John (especially John!) for the listener of this album (or for the reader of this review). So, since we’re all here: this is the modern version of a certain English band formed in ’68, but this won’t be the end of the song, because Head Down has much more to provide.
Despite the cliché, Rival Sons not only focus on classic riffs but also try to make you put on your dancing shoes after the opener Keep On Swinging, filling the album’s character with funky blues and psychedelic parts, without forgetting the base provided four decades earlier. Another thing to point out would be moments like in the wonderful Jordan, taking just a few seconds to make you feel melancholic like Forrest Gump sitting on a bench in Georgia, or Manifest Destiny parts 1 and 2, trying successfully to tie on epic rock opera songs right from the 70s.
The hardness may be lost sometimes, in case you presuppose a kind of it from classic rock. Head Down is a grower which shouldn’t be classified as another boring homage to a certain English band formed in ’68 – influences from many other artists from that time are unmistakable, but they don’t outshine the very own and authentic groove of this quartet from L.A.
The funny fact that the vocalist sometimes sounds like George Michael shouldn’t prevent anybody from enjoying this perfect soundtrack for a road trip through the Californian summer, or whatever is your favourite part of the states. There’ll be plenty of old school moments to discover, combined with the freshness of four men who enjoy living in the past of rock music.
Shame on the author once again, because it was only in 2010 when he came along the prog masters and songwriters from Motorpsycho. Heavy Metal Fruit is sometimes titled as a longer EP, a huge understatement considering the deepness and the length of over 60 minutes playtime.
Their latest release The Death Defying Unicorn from 2012 (featuring Ståle Storløkken) is still too epic for the author to review, although the main reason why he writes this review is the proggy, jazzy and spacy groove that the Norwegians display in this great work. The journey ironically starts with silence, slowly filled with silent guitar sounds before starting with a huge and warm melody joined by psychedelic vocals and a funk that won’t stop until the end of this space odyssey.
By the time Starhammer comes to an end after nearly 13 minutes, X-3 (Knuckelheads In Space) / The Getaway Special kicks off without a warning, taking you with light speed to the next rock’n’roll galaxy. There used to be a comment on last.fm which said something like this would be the perfect soundtrack when cruising with a cosmic chopper through the Milky Way. It is indeed. “Won’t you fly us?” – Of course! And after the landing, the jazzy outro gives the passenger a welcome repose in some space lounge.
“Round round round we go, always slightly faster…” The spacecraft floats calmly on its way to nowhere. But don’t feel too safe, because there are massive turmoils to come, sucking you into a black hole, always faster, always faster, The Bomb-Proof Roll And Beyond (for Arnie Hassle) has knocked you off course.
Close Your Eyes – maybe this is all just a dream, the listener is lost in melancholic piano sounds, space is such an empty and loveless place. W.B.A.T. wakes you up again, a jam session from infinity, the travel must go on! Meteors, burning planets, exploding suns, riff rock! Never ending grooves bring you back on track. The journey is its own reward. Irreality and reality have never been so close to each other; you once again have to close your eyes to see what’s between bass, guitars, drums and funky vocals. Just keep the pace, the end is near.
Not a bit of it! Gullible’s Travails (pt I – IV) shows you the way. It could be an album in itself. The last trip of this odyssey is nearly 21 minutes long and reminds you of the challenges you have to face. “Call it fear, call it hope disguised as anger.” Never have human eyes perceived so many strange galaxies – Zeppelin planets, Sabbath moons, Rings of Floyd. This trip has everything what jazz, prog and acoustic rock have to offer. Even at risk of overusing adjectives: this is an epic and dignified end for the expedition of the spacecraft baptised Heavy Metal Fruit. And it all just has started.
No recommendations. Nothing’s real. Enjoy it.
When I discovered The Intersphere for the first time at this year’s Food For Your Senses Festival, I described their sound as a mixture between softer and harder post-core elements with Muse-ish riffs and clean Fall-Out-Boy-ish vocals. An impression that is confirmed throughout their 2012 release Hold on, Liberty!, combined with a solid touch of pop-rock.
The album, however, takes its time to warm-up and you may get lost a little between Coldplay keyboards and Finnish-like rock vocals; negative appearances that are deceitful until Sleeping God and Hold On, Liberty reveal the true dynamics of this long player. It’s not the presence of any kind of innovation but the playfulness and the catchy post-core grooves that may make you appreciate the German quartet’s work. I know I am using the word “catchy” way to often to describe sounds, but again I can’t prevent myself from doing it.
Still, outbursts like in Capitali just happen too rarely for my taste, but hey, music reviews will never be objective. Unleashing the dogs called drummer and bassist turns out to be a very good idea – this is the essence that creates the groove and makes their live shows so enjoyable.
The girlish, romantic, melodic refrains shouldn’t evoke too much macho behavior, I know, this is not a metal release, but those guys don’t deserve to be characterized too early as a soft-rock band. The album sound, in my eyes, doesn’t do enough justice to their powerful live sound though, although it definitely is a grower. It nevertheless is worth a buy if you like to cool down a bit the violence that the most post-core bands dash out of their amps.
This may not be a continuously compelling album, but a release with many great sounding melodic and rocking parts to discover!
Recommendations: Sleeping God, Hold On, Liberty, Parallel Lines
Two-horned creatures puking rainbows in a pink candy-sky-land. One of those covers that just oblige you to buy the album, no matter how it sounds. The good thing in this case: it doesn’t just look like a drug trip becoming true, it also rocks butts right from the beginning. And I can’t believe that the first song sounding like a metal version of “I Want Candy” is a coincidence.
Torche’s third album is something like a newbie’s guide to sludge music. You may even call it pop-sludge. If Fang Island is the good-mood-metal band of these days, then Torche should be the one for happy sludgy holidays. Harmonicraft cuts its own path fluently until the end. Popish guitars never take too long to drift into a distorted outburst, walls of sound never finish up being boring. You may not like the Volbeat-like vocals. Fair enough, but you can’t really hold it against those cute creatures. One look into their lunatic eyes when vomiting in all colours of the rainbow, and resistance is futile.
During the middle part of Harmonicraft the guitars slow down a little, giving a short breath to the visitors of candy-land. The length of about 38 minutes doesn’t allow too many pauses though – the next thunderstorm is already waiting to come down on the listener.
The release may seem to become more and more monotone at first appearance, but the dynamics of sludge need more listening sessions to be spotted. The strong riffs even sometimes drift into a 70s rock homage without being insincere at all. The only thing which doesn’t match the overall appearance is the doomy conclusion, with best regards from Black Sabbath.
Recommendations: Letting Go, Kicking, Sky Trials
By the way, their video for Kicking would be a perfect aspirant for Trash Monday!
The Proof That Ghosts Exist (or how I would say: “the proof that totally unknown bands selling totally cheap CDs can actually be pretty catchy!”) is the 2011 release by the 4 young Englishsmen Fights and Fires.
“Fights and who..?” you might ask now. Well, the boys have started to build up some reputation in the UK for sure, their excessive touring over the last months actually also brought them to Luxembourg’s Food For Your Senses 2012 festival for example, where I had the chance to enjoy their show (check here).
I must say the opener of their album caught the whole heaviness and rudeness that filled the tent stage back then. 59 seconds of pure force followed by My Rusty, a mix of hardcore, postcore, punk and pop punk elements. “Are you kidding me?” No they apparently aren’t. My astonishment quickly changed into excitement, because this mix actually gives them a very catchy mark, very enjoyable if you like popish postcore elements these day (or back in the At The Drive-In times).
Shake It again sums up the whole Fights And Fires sound and even lets your hips move with its danceable refrain. Don’t worry; they never miss the right moment to smash your face with post and hardcore outbursts. In case this all sounds like a Sum 41 release to you – it is not the case. As already said, the odd thing about all this is the fact that they actually seem to be way more brutal during their live performances, which doesn’t mean that the album loses its energy. I would never have expected to encounter such a situation with a 5 € CD, coincidentally bought on a small festival. You just got to love such discoveries.
A head banging and hip moving experience, mixing punk refrains with “bear-ish” outbursts (that front man actually looks like a bear, cheers mate!). Drums, bass and guitar also perfectly switch from metal to disco (damn they gonna kill me if they read this). Although slightly flattening towards the end, this release is a very welcome guest in one’s CD player during a half an hour car trip.
Recommendations: Tracks 1 to 4 in a row!