Tag Archives: Nu Metal

Annominus – The Architect

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Today I have the pleasure of revisiting a band about which I said that I’d keep my eyes on, when I reviewed its debut record about four years ago. Annominus‘ first endeavor End Of Atonement was a massive throwback to the early 2000s nu metal bands and I had tons of fun listening to it back then. The Danes’ new record The Architect is about to come out, this Friday, and I figured I’d owe them, and myself, a thorough listen.

I’ll get right to it: as I type this review I’m in a state between awe and disappointment, and the more I listen to the record, the more both feelings become stronger. I think tackling the positive aspects first is probably the way to go, so let me say that I am truly impressed by how well the quartet’s sound has evolved, while still maintaining that alternative metal note that made them dear to my heart in the first place.

Some of the eight songs feature many parts that are almost akin to doom metal, with very driving but somber guitars and very melodic singing, that are interspersed through the more straight-forward passages. Generally speaking the guitar work has some really catchy and stand-out riffs that I whistled along to even on my first listen-through. The drums on the other hand are also fulfilling their duty very well and feature some quite interesting drum patterns.

Last but not least, the vocals are, in my opinion, the absolute highlight during these forty-three minutes. The vocal melodies are not only superbly well written and sung, they also contain truly captivating lyrics that deal with the concept of the (self-)alienation of us humans in front of the rest of the world. The occasional screams also fit in very nicely into the narrative and the songwriting in general, rounding off the entire record very well.

Now, you might wonder why I was disappointed and while it pains me to mention it, given the extreme potential of The Architect, I feel like I have to at least dedicate a paragraph to it. I am a huge fan of DIY, this website being completely self-run and -financed, and I welcome it very much in bands. However, I feel like Annominus might have wasted a chance here by opting to go that route. Especially on headphones the mix is really lacking a lot of punch and the different instruments just turn into a homogeneous wall of sound, making the distinction extremely difficult. It might not be a big deal for some, but I’m truly a sucker for good production, and especially in the nu/alternative metal genre it is almost a staple. Full disclosure: while writing these lines, I am listening to the last song on the album on my speakers, which I’ve cranked up louder than usual, and it does sound more passable…so maybe try that for yourself.

With that being said, there is no denying that The Architect is a really solid album in its core and I can wholeheartedly recommend giving it a listen if you’re looking for a fairly interesting mix of influences and a passionate approach to music. Make sure to check the video below to get an idea what I’m talking about and don’t hesitate to visit AnnominusFacebook page!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy0m8u4Hbxc]

Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter

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If you’ve followed my reviews for a while, you hopefully didn’t think that I would not write about today’s record. I know I did take my sweet time before getting to it, but I didn’t want to rush it in any way and soak up the new Slipknot album as much as I could before putting down the first word of what follows. Released on October 17th, a bit more than six years after its predecessor, .5: The Gray Chapter puts the Nine back in the picture after a long period of mourning and finding themselves again, due to the passing of their bassist Paul Gray.

Right off the bat, I have to say that the new material is a perfect mixture of the aggressiveness that was predominant on IOWA and the creativity as well as the variation that marked Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. One factor that may or may not have played a role in this well-executed fusion, was the departure of Joey Jordison, drummer and one of the main songwriters, and the arrival of fresh blood in the form of, even though unconfirmed by the band, Jay Weinberg. As I said, it is not really known if “the new guy” has contributed much to the songwriting but his different style of drumming is definitely noticeable during these sixty-three minutes. Despite being a huge Jordison fanboy myself, I welcome the change because the groove is strong with this one and the blast-beats don’t have to hide either.

In the stringed department, the bass spot is, supposedly, filled by Alessandro Venturella who I have to admit, I can’t really distinguish clearly in the mix but I guess that’s a good sign, because why change a winning team? The guitars are stronger and more menacing than ever, while at the same time bringing some of the biggest melodies the Iowans have ever come up with. Truly a genius mix, filled with experimental elements in the form of more prominent synthesizers and turntable effects, without ever losing the drive and the force.

In the two months that 5:TGC has been out, I’ve heard and read many complaints about Corey Taylor’s vocals, especially the clean ones, being too much like on the new Stone Sour stuff and to a certain extent I have to agree. Because it’s a fact. Simple as that. What I don’t agree with, however, is that that’s a negative aspect, since I don’t see the point in him changing his style for one band, if he has found a range that he’s comfortable with. You see, there’s always people who can’t let go of the past and wish that everything could forever remain the same, but at the end of the day change and evolution, especially in music, is a good thing and you, the listener, should welcome it with open arms. If it ends up not being your cup of tea, move on, or simply listen to the old material.

Moving on to the lyrics which I feared at first would be very Paul Gray-centered, with the name of the album and all, thus resulting in repetition. In hindsight, I feel almost silly for doubting the Knot, since only three out of the fourteen, sixteen including the bonus tracks, songs are clearly about him. The remaining ones are what fans are used to: metaphorical lyrics with tons of words that you’ve never heard before and catchy as hell choruses.

To sum things up, this is a phenomenal album, at least in my completely biased opinion, and easily the nontet’s most diverse effort to date. However, Vol. 3 will remain my number one, because it’s how it all started for me. If you live behind the moon and haven’t checked out .5: The Gray Chapter yet, do yourself a favor by doing so immediately and head over the band’s Facebook page for more info. For our Luxembourgish readers: mark February 2nd on your calendar, because that’s when Slipknot will hit our little country at the Rockhal! This is my last review for this year, so stay (sic) and check out our top five posts next week!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEEasR7hVhA]

Annominus – End Of Atonement

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Do you remember the days when Disturbed was original and actually good? I know that it’s been more than a decade ago but those were the great times of nu metal, shortly before its ultimate demise…recently, however, there has been a resurgence of new bands that have taken that presumed dead genre and revitalized it. One of these is the, sadly rather unknown, band Annominus who are about to release their debut album End Of Atonement, which is due on November 17th. Let me give you my impressions of it!

The quintet makes no mystery out of the fact that they are heavily inspired by early 2000ish nu metal and that is the right approach in my opinion, because why try to re-invent the wheel when there’s a forgotten one somewhere that still works perfectly fine? On here you can find everything that you loved about the music back then, including catchy melodic passages, heavy riffs and fast-paced groovy drumming, all fused into one delicious musical potpourri.

During the ten tracks, the Danes also incorporate some slower-paced elements that are akin to, albeit heavy, ballads and present a welcome change to the more common hard-hitting song structures. The songwriting varies between fairly simple and in some places highly technical, yet is super effective at all times. The guitar tone on the other hand is crunchy and rich, thus fitting the genre perfectly, in combination with the not too strongly triggered drums they create an overall highly enjoyable listening experience.

All throughout the forty minute ride that is End Of Atonement, the lead singer displays a great range of vocal diversity, including amazingly melodic cleans, aggressive screams that are occasionally pseudo-rapped and quite powerful growls, even though I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure if those aren’t by the drummer who does backup vocals. Either way, the vocal department is facetious enough to avoid boredom at any point in time.

All in all, I must say that I’ve been positively surprised by Annominus and therefore they have managed to add themselves to my “must-observe-in-the-future” list with their remarkable debut album. You should absolutely give the track below a spin, to get a fairly accurate impression of their sound, and if you like what you’re hearing head on over to their Facebook page to keep up with them until the release of the album!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvzaMDl7D60]

Unfaithful – Streetfighter

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The list of bands that I would have almost missed out on, if I hadn’t kept an open mind, recently grew by one more name: Unfaithful! When I received the promo material for the debut full length Streetfighter of the Swedes, I wasn’t very intrigued by the description but I gave it a shot anyways…and holy shit is it good!

The quartet plays an interesting mix of hardcore elements, tons of groove and a nu metal nuance to it. As I’ve said before, I don’t like making comparisons, but they bare a striking resemblance to Five Finger Death Punch…or at least to their early, and better, times. Crushing riffs and drumming that will pound you into the ground are predominant, but the groove is the band’s almighty secret weapon that always, and I mean every single time it sets in, makes you want to move.

The record features enough variation in order to allow the average listener to differentiate the nine songs without any feeling of déjà-vu, yet it all sounds like an ensemble of brute force. The complexity and variety of the guitar work is highly enjoyable and includes several highlights in the form of solos and quite epic parts. The drumming, as mentioned above, is tight as hell and holds the music together perfectly with a huge spectrum of patterns that guarantee a good time.

Another strong selling point for these thirty-six minutes are hands down the vocals, which are mostly growled screams, for lack of a better word, during the verses. The special touch, however, comes during the (pre-)chorusses in the form of the clean vocals which are flawlessly executed and fit into Unfaithful‘s sound like a moshpit into a good concert. The lyrics deal with all sorts of topics, like drug addiction, bullying and gambling problems and while they do come across as a bit poserish at times, they don’t make you roll your eyes at any point.

All in all, Streetfighter is a record that does everything right and I sincerely hope that it will garner the deserved attention in the international scene, because I’d love to hear more from these guys in the future! It will be out on November 10th, and you can keep up with the band on their Facebook page as well as get an impression of their sound below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shmHKSE5C8Q]

Scar The Martyr – Scar The Martyr

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As you might have noticed from some of my previous reviews, I follow everything Slipknot and its members do almost religiously. Which is why I was very delighted when I learned that Joey Jordison, their drummer, started a new project called Scar The Martyr earlier this year. Not much was known by then and first studio previews left me quite underwhelmed since there was no real structure in the various clips. Fast forward a couple of months and we see the release of the self-titled album, to which I’ll give my two cents today.

The opener Dark Ages immediately sucked me in with its heavy rhythm and I saw my bopping head without even realizing it. The whole thing threw me back to my early teenage years where nu metal was at its peak and I slowly started getting into heavier music. Let me just take a step back here and say that STM is in no way a cheap copy of the “classic” bands, but instead they’ve added several industrial elements to their sound, which brings a refreshing note to the fourteen songs.

The record is chock-full of, for lack of a better word, heavy-ass riffs and super melodic fast-paced solos which leaves close to new room for a rest. Just the way I like it, basically. The drumming is rather basic, if you consider who is sitting behind the drum kit, but it perfectly drives the ensemble to where it wants to go. However, I do have to nag a little bit and say that quite a few songs start out the, almost, exact same way with a rhythm on the toms…it isn’t very innovative but it’s not too obnoxious. Keyboards are also present, but rather to accentuate the music than being put in the spotlight.

The next major selling point, which seems to be the recurring theme of 2013’s albums, are the vocals. While the rest of the band is composed of relatively known musicians, the singer is the rather unknown Henry Derek…but the man can sing and scream like no tomorrow. His clean vocals are so ridiculously melodic that I can never wait for the choruses, where they are mostly used, to give me goosebumps. I might be a bit off here, but in certain spots he reminds me of Mike Patton during the The Real Thing era. The screams don’t have to hide behind those of any other famous loudmouth’s either and especially the duality between the two is just breath-taking.

The only downside to this album is the length, because at seventy-five minutes total the record loses a bit of its effect. I know it sounds silly but I’m convinced that if it had been at slightly under fifty minutes, it would have left you leaving for more instead of completely saturating you. The unbelievable thing is that there are two more, digital, versions: one with a playtime of ninety-two minutes and one with slightly less than two hours. It’s a bit of a dumb nitpick but it was the only real thing that bothered me, so I had to share it with you. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend this album to anyone who wants a refreshing throwback to a long-forgotten genre. For more info, go visit the band’s Facebook page and be sure to check the song below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl_ej-OupkI]

Sipping – 49.25/6.20

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France is known for many things. Like losing wars, being romantic and Louis de Funès but metal is not a big export it can claim. While they do have a handful of really good and even well-known bands that made it internationally, they are mostly know musically for their pop and rap. Today’s review is about a nu metal band from the hexagon: Sipping, who released their debut EP 49.25/6.20 earlier this year.

As mentioned before, the sextet plays nu metal in its “oldest” form…complete with rap vocals, screams and scratching. There is one thing that does stand out though: they sing in French. While that makes it more difficult to appeal to international audiences, it is a distinctive feature which I welcome, since it’s rarely done these days.

The production is solid but not quite where I’d like it to be, since, at least in my opinion, the genre gets most of its momentum from a strong sound. It is, however, not to the point where it’s impossible to listen to, so don’t dismiss it before you gave it a listen. The drums are nothing you’ve never heard before but well played, delivering an appropriate base for the rest of the music. Guitar wise it’s nothing to write home about but sufficient to not make you run away during these eighteen minutes.

The rap vocals generally follow the same rhythm without many surprises, and the occasional screams could be a bit more frequent for my taste. The same goes for the vocals as for the rest of the six tracks: not bad, but nothing spectacular. The intro deserves a special mention since it features Nyan Cat…whether that is positive or negative is up to you; I liked it.

All in all, this EP did not blow me away but I can see what the band tried to do and I welcome it. The general consensus is that nu metal is dead, but attempts like these to revive it always make me feel nostalgic and I can’t completely dismiss it. If you get a chance to see the band live, as I did when I discovered them, I would recommend that to the recorded version but if you’re hungry for some new-old stuff: be my guest. More information can be found on the band’s Facebook page and you can make your own impression by listening to the song below, which oddly enough sounds better than the version on the EP I got.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF9r9mFHW1M]