Category Archives: Music

Fallujah

fallujahcd2The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah (Unique Leader Records)

An absolutely staggering work of magnificent artistry and sheer ambition, The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah unleashes death metal at its most devastating. Atmospheric and enigmatic, The Flesh Prevails is an all-out epic – a grand assault to the senses that will leave the serious music aficionado wanting to experience a whole lot more. The follow-up to their well-received debut Harvest Wounds, The Flesh Prevails is a blistering triumph that should place Fallujah firmly within the ranks of the metal elite. The controlled instrumental chaos and scathing vocal attack are wondrous to behold, sending all nine of the tracks soaring into the stratosphere.

fallujah2014_2The fantastic journey commences with the dazzling Starlit Path, where an ominous overture explodes into a tirade of progressive madness and intrigue. Carved From Stone then slams through your psyche with its ferocious reprieves and unforgiving atmospherics. The Night Reveals is spiraling and technical, with searing vocals and superb musicianship from all sonic Fallujah travelers.

Title track The Flesh Prevails is mostly instrumental, derived from the most threatening of dreams, followed by the relentless pummeling of the mesmerizing Levitation. Alone With You serves as a diabolically sensual overture to the gorgeously lethal soundscapes of Allure. And then the final compositions Sapphire and Chemical Cave demonstrate a band at the very height of their creative prowess – a thunderous one-two punch of massive proportions that is nothing short of astounding.

Based out of the wildly diverse San Francisco music scene, the sonic jihad known as Fallujah consists of Alex Hofmann on vocals, Scott Carstairs on guitars, Brian James on guitars, Robert Morey on bass, and Andrew Baird on drums. Currently on the Summer Slaughter Tour supporting none other than Morbid Angel and Dying Fetus, Fallujah is destined to leave their mark on metalheads all across the country, and are imaginative enough to appeal to an even wider audience.   An exciting collective we are sure to hear a lot more in the months ahead, Fallujah and their compelling symphonies of the extreme are not to be missed!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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War Of Ages

surpremechaos2Supreme Chaos by War Of Ages (Facedown Records)

It’s been ten years since their Independent debut Unite Us All was presented upon the world at large, and since that time, War Of Ages has certainly made a name for themselves within the Christian metal market and beyond. Their Self-Titled album was released on Strike First Records in 2005 – shortly thereafter, they graduated to Facedown, and together, band and label has left an indelible impression upon the music world. Supreme Chaos is the sixth magnum opus for War Of Ages, and is destined to be known as a defining moment in their already impressive discography. Featuring powerful lyrical content and vibrant anthem-like melodies that will make you want to shake your fists triumphantly in the air, Supreme Chaos showsWar Of Ages in their finest hour. Expect this one to break it on out in a celebrated way, especially if the ten songs contained within are indicative of the sweeping glories ahead.

warofages2014“I will stand by your side” is the opening proclamation of From Ashes, the inspiring first cut from Supreme Chaos – this track alone will make the listener want to take on the world while singing along to its striking reprieves. “We are the face of a generation broken” then cries out Lost In Apathy, whose potent lyrics and dynamic choruses render this one a standout. Doomsday shows a sweeping diversity that is sure to thrill listeners – an ambitious, melodic songs that soars deep into your senses.

Chaos Theory furthers the War Of Ages journey into the darkness of the human psyche, followed by the massively potent strains of the wondrous Lionheart. On Broken Wings absolutely ascends with its spiraling soundscapes and impassioned vocals, followed by the infinitely moving Amber Alert.

Renegade possesses towering guitar interludes that will dazzle the ears. “I gave her everything, swallowed in hate that I created,” is the stark confession to be found within Ecstacy. And then closing out Supreme Chaos is Still Small Voice, a thrashing testament to faith and conviction mixing in the very best of the old and new school War Of Ages.

Powerhouse performance are delivered tenfold from the metal brigade known as War Of Ages – amongst the ranking members are Leroy Hamp on vocals, Steve Brown on guitar, Jack Daniels on guitar, Elisha Mullins on bass, and Alex Hamp on drums. The visionary Supreme Chaos was recorded with Josh Barber at Covenant Studios (Norma Jean, EISM) and mixed by Will Putney (Impending Doom, For Today). Supreme Chaos is a landmark work that should reverberate through the hearts and minds of all metal connoisseurs looking for an inspirational adventure in sound.  Featuring the stellar artwork of the one and only Dave Quiggle.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Crown The Empire

riserun1The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways by Crown The Empire (Rise Records)

In 2012, a little band by the name of Crown The Empire emerged from the depths of Texas. Releasing a widely successful debut album called The Fallout, they instantly toured the world supporting many large acts such as The Used, Motionless In White and Of Mice & Men as well as headlining the Ernie Ball Stage on Warped Tour 2013. Two years later they are back and stronger than ever with their sophomore release The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways.

cttewarpd1With thirteen tracks in length, this record will define what the 6-piece metalcore band is going to be in the future. From the sound of just the first two songs, it is obvious that The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways is going to take Crown The Empire directly to the top. As soon as the first song Call To Arms (Act I) starts you are instantly thrown into the intensity. Almost as if it picks up right where The Fallout leaves off. Track number 2 immediately dives into the extremely heavy, Initiation which features a style of vocals that is new to Crown The Empire and rest assured, it works very well for them. Initiation is also one of the two brand new songs they are playing at Warped Tour this summer. The second of the two is MNSTR, which is classic CTE to the very core. With heavy riffs and melodic choruses MNSTR will without a doubt be a hit.

Dual Vocalists Andy Leo and David Escamilla add uniqueness to the record that defines who they are in every way. These two together, portray the light and dark side of all thirteen songs with extreme success. The ripping guitar riffs and solos by Brandon Hoover and Bennett Vogelman bounce of one another in perfect unison. In the Rhythm section of the band on bass is Hayden Tree and Brent Taddie on Drums. Each of them bring up the low end of the band to form a sound that is heavy and rhythmic which makes them completely unstoppable.

Crown The Empire has been known to have a theatrical/end of the world feel to their music. In the first few songs you will feel entranced by the music and instantly connect to it. With the apocalyptic feel to it, the intensity almost never subsides. Also featured as the last song on the album is the third piece of the story of Johnny. Johnny’s Rebellion travels all the way back to the Limitless days and it will not disappoint. This band is truly something special and is much different than the norm. Split up into three acts, the album delivers something truly unique that will put Crown The Empire on the map for a long time.

(Review and Live Photo by Edward Brandon – Visit www.edwardbrandonphoto.zenfolio.com)

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My Cardboard Rocket

ThePositiveThe Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket (Self-released EP)

Many actually were introduced to A.J. Garces last year, as he traveled across the country on the Summerfest Tour as a support guitarist for Keep It Cute . Also on the bill were such notable bands as  We The Kings, Breathe Carolina, and The Ready Set.  Now a solo project has been launched with the moniker of My Cardboard Rocket – and judging by what’s ignited on the debut EP entitled The Positive & Negative, expect Garces and his pop rocking project to shoot straight up into the stratosphere. Containing five wildly infectious tunes that will remain embedded in your head long after the music spins to its grand finale, The Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket is surely on the most electrifying new releases of 2014!

ajgarces1The countdown commences with the sweet sonic perfection of The Best Team, featuring the participation of Phillip Wolf in a hip hopping cameo. The fireworks continue with the blissful refrains of Dangerous, where opposites attract with wondrously addictive results. First Shot then envelops your speakers with its vibrant chorus and exhilarating vocal performance rendering this one an absolute standout.

Gold Watch is a reflective track about attaining your dreams no matter what adversity surrounds you, featuring another hip hopping guest solo, this time none other than YouTube sensation Nathan Ryan.   And then closing out the EP way to soon is the powerhouse inflections of Last Dance, where “Oh no, we’re dying at the disco, run, run, they’re never gonna catch us” is urgently conveyed to a ultra-pulsating beat.  An extraordinary, heart pumping conclusion showing A.J. Garces at the very height of his solo artistry.

Fans of acts such as The Ready Set and Goldhouse will surely unearth an all-out favorite when jumping aboard the soundscapes of My Cardboard Rocket. Even with these comparisons, A.J. Garces clearly demonstrates his own style and flair that will surely captivate all looking to discover some exciting new songs to enjoy. Be sure to check out what the talented A.J. Garces has to offer to world at large, because My Cardboard Rocket is destined for the brightest stars and beyond.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Romuvos

romuvos1_400x400Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos (No Colours Records)

No Colours Records is an absolute legend in the underground metal arena, with such notable acts as Graveland and Nargaroth on their distinguished rooster (as well as releasing Dimmu Borgir’s landmark debut album For All Tid). Their releases are pure adventures in sound, and Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos is a stunning addition to their already impressive catalog.  The mastermind behind Romuvos is Vilnius, presenting imaginative tales from the days of knighthood and other bewitching Pagan subjects.  While Viking-era Bathory and latter day Falkenbach may be cited as references, Velnias weaves his own mystical sound into the proceedings, and the results are phenomenally breathtaking.  As a background to the band’s moniker, “romuva” means reviving the religious practices and pagan traditions of the Lithuanians and Baltic people before the plague commonly known as Christianity.

romuvos2The glorious epic commences with the sweeping reveries of Under The Glaciers Of Baltijos enveloping the  atmosphere with its triumphant reprieves.  Beyond The Gates Of Ouroboros continues the passage into another time, featuring intriguing soundscapes and melancholic vocals. Thy Glory And Might Thus We Shal Stand begins with a calming overture before exploding into a majestic odyssey of epic proportions. Poems For The Dead is a vibrant tribute to those who have passed on – a beautifully hypnotic masterwork that makes you want to take on the world at large.

Sailing Far Away From Shores Of Men starts the voyage with a calming interlude before the acoustic guitars and multilayered vocals transport this one into a hymn for the ages. Inside The Lake is sorrowful and enigmatic, like one of those songs spun around the fire that will linger deep within your soul for an eternity.  Egle- The Queen Of Serpents is another highlight with its darkly enchanted lyrics and slithering melodies leaving an indelible impression – definitely showcasing Velnias gift for telling an unforgettable story in song. And then closing out the journey on a mystical note is the title cut Romuvan Dainas, opening with vocals and percussion and then sweeping the listener into a euphoric state of sonic bliss.

Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos is a thrilling debut that music aficionados all across the world will want to experience time and again. There is no screaming or growling, and yet the compositions retain a thrilling intensity and vibrant timelessness that will captivate the senses of all valiant types willing to give a listen. It will be exciting to witness the next gripping chapter Velnias presents with the magnificent Romuvos.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Youth In Revolt

LoveIsA1Love Is A Liar’s Game by Youth In Revolt (Outerloop Records)

The recent collaboration of Fearless Records and Outerloop Management is resulting in some promising bands well worth seeking out. The creation known as Outerloop Records has now unleashed their next great discovery – a five piece collective known as Youth In Revolt from New Jersey. Love Is A Liar’s Game is Youth In Revolt’s debut for the label, a thunderously solid EP that should garner the band a good amount of notice. Fans of acts such as Sleeping With Sirens and Memphis May Fire are destined to encounter a new favorite when checking into what the inspiring Youth In Revolt has to offer.

youthinrevolt2Love Is A Liar’s Game kicks off with a fiery call of “let’s go” meshing into a powerful metalcore anthem entitled There For You. Instantly grabbing the listener by throat, one notices the soaring vocal performance of True Arahill as well as the truly dynamic musicianship. The title cut Love Is A Liar’s Game is spiraling in scope, complete with a thrilling chorus that will have audiences singing along when performed live.

Never Stay is a topnotch track, slamming at your senses in the beginning before colliding into a grand reverie of epic proportions. When It’s Over is dazzling with its sheer intensity mixed with some vibrantly melodic parts. And then closing out the EP is a heartfelt acoustic track entitled For The First Time, presenting a side to the Youth In Revolt experience that is genuinely exciting to hear. The EP ends way to soon, but the songs are so memorable that you’ll want to revisit them all time and again.

The exceptional Youth In Revolt lineup consists of True Arahill on vocals, Kenny Torres on vocals and bass, George Shrouder on guitar, Alex Ramos on guitar, and Devon Bosque on drums.  It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for the rising stars of Youth In Revolt – in the meantime snag a copy of Love Is A Liar’s Game and join a sonic revolution that is just beginning to commence.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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The Downtown Fiction

losersandkings2Losers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction (Fearless Records)

This certainly seems to be the year The Downtown Fiction are slated to hit the big leagues, especially if their winning sophomore release Losers & Kings is any indication of what’s in store for this band. The best pop punk summer album since Yellowcard surfed effortlessly through the streets of Ocean Avenue, Losers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction present 12 solid tracks of wildly infectious tunes. After three EP’s and a previous full length entitled Let’s Be Animals, expect this new puppy to roar into the hearts and minds of many a music fan.

downtownfiction2014The kick-off track Some Place On Earth is pure pop perfection, a wistful track of epic proportions with a driving chorus ready to hook the listener in for even more glorious anthems ahead. Hope I Die On A Saturday Night is certainly a grim title for a track, but the melodies are so spiraling and joyous, you’ll be singing along to this one for the many days to come. Don’t Count Me Out is a song of perseverance that could be an anthem for anyone searching for that elusive dream.

Kiss My Friends recalls the power pop movement from the 80’s, brought back with an ultramodern twist – it’s the albums second single and it’s sure to ignite a frenzy when performed live. The pace is then slowed down a bit with a visit to Santa Cruz, where the gorgeous refrains of “I’ve got my skateboard, I’m never coming home” jubilantly ring through. “This one’s for the broken hearted,” the lyrics proclaim on the radiant No Generation, with its chorus jangling through your head like a wondrously rebellious dream.

Cool Kids has a Beatlesque sound that will rock and roll your world while So Called Life is filled with attitude and style set to grooving melody. Big Mistakes especially shows off Cameron Leahy’s emotional vocals combining well with the soaring melodies. Right Where We Left Off is a definitive highlight, a heartfelt acoustic ballad demonstrating another side to The Downtown Fiction sound. And then closing out Losers & Kings on an all-out rocking note is Sometimes, leaving an indelible impression with its breathtaking vibrancy.

The musicianship found within The Downtown Fiction is inspired and resourceful, featuring the talents of the aforementioned Cameron Leahy on vocals and guitar, David Pavluk on bass and vocals, Wes Dimond on guitar and vocals, and Kyle Rodgers on drums. The band has grown tremendously since their inception in 2008, and with Losers & Kings, The Downtown Fiction appear ready to transport a brilliant career in music into an uptown reality!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Rippikoulu

Rippicd1Ulvaja by Rippikoulu (Svart Records)

The prodigious Rippikoulu from Finland has been deathly silent since the 90’s, when they released two demos that shot them into an underground legend status. It’s been 21 years, but now Rippikoulu has been gloriously unearthed, and the results are absolutely staggering in scope. This is doom metal of the highest order, relentlessly bleak and morbidly beautiful. Ulvaja may only be three deep cuts of obscure melancholy running a total of 18 minutes in length, but the splendor found within these breathtaking masterworks is wondrous to behold. Available worldwide via Svart Records, Ulvaja is ready to darken your doorstop with their foreboding hymns for the depths of your tormented soul.

The lifeless rivers of time overflow with a slow, harrowing vengeance, as Jää Hyvästi Kaunis Kesä plagues your consciousness with its reveries of haunting despair. The interlude Loputon marches through your world with a diabolical sense of urgency – mixing in black metal artistry with all things vast and doomy. Then the grand title track Ulvaja infects the entrails of your mind, where the tortured growls are superbly mixed with an otherworldly female vocal. The final tapestry is austere and exquisite, with atmospheres that will linger within your blackened heart for the metal ages to come.

The only grievance I dare register against this stunning masterpiece is that it ends way too soon! Let’s hope it’s not another 20 years before we hear from the likes of Rippikoulu again. Those looking for an auditory adventure into the realms of depressive madness must wander through the somber halls of Ulvaja by Rippikoulu. According the Encyclopedia Metallium, the skillful maestros behind Rippikoulu consists of Anssi Kartela on vocals, Olli V. on guitars, Janne Ruohonen on bass, and Toni Valtanen on drums.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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The Word Alive

realtwa_400x400Real. by The Word Alive (Fearless Records)

Those who may have thought The Word Alive hit the zenith of their career with their vibrant Life Cycles only need to give a listen to what their third magnum opus Real. has to offer. A thoroughly captivating effort is now upon us, showing a metalcore outfit soaring to greaters height above and beyond genre expectations, Real. is a richly rewarding collection of tunes destined to devastate the senses. Hard hitting and wondrously uplifting, Real. is destined to be the album of the summer for music fans all across the sonic spectrum.

twa2014_2_400x185Real. slams into the stratosphere with the highly effective Play The Victim, showing instantly the melding of profound lyrics, passionate vocals and spiraling melodies. Never Forget is dedicated to Mitch Lucker and all of those close to us who have passed away. An extremely poignant song that packs an emotional wallop.  Broken Circuit then explodes with its heavy duty blast-beats, otherworldly screams, and epic choruses.

Lighthouse is vast and inspiring, the kind of song that could change the world with its wonderful message of empowerment and survival. This one is destined to be a crowd favorite when performed live. The Fortune Teller continues the auditory adventure, another track showing just how much The Word Alive has progressed since their humble beginnings. Glass Castle then shatters through your reality with its manic guitar solos and intensive vocals reigning supreme.

94th Street shows The Word Alive wandering down the roads of a grungier age, presenting a memorable power ballad for the ages.  It’s a clever mixture of music styles to be sure.  Then it’s back to the heaviness at hand with Your Mirage, featuring some of the most aggressive singing and screaming to be found on the album. Terminal then radiates with a staggering amount of ferocity.

The Runaway is an absolute highlight, a glorious rock and roll anthem whose rousing lyrics will make you want to take on the entire world. To Struggle And Claw My Way is fearless and pummeling while closing track Collapsing demonstrates a gorgeously creative side to the band, providing a rapturous grand finale.

Telle Smith has certainly emerged as one of the most electrifying lead vocalists on the scene today – whether he’s singing or doing the uncleans, there is a persuasive amount of conviction and urgency that shines throughout the entire recording. Tony Pizzuti and Zack Hansen unleash the guitar work with a thunderous amount of imagination and intrigue. Daniel Shapiro supplies a pummeling low end with his fine bass work. And then there’s drummer extraordinaire Luke Holland, whose skilled precision brings it all home with an all-out vengeance. Real. is a definitive triumph for The Word Alive – the type of album that their fans will remember and cherish for the turbulent years ahead.

Be sure to catch The Word Alive this summer on each and every date of the Vans Warped Tour!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Meshuggah 25th Anniversary Tour

SONY DSCMeshuggah at The Wiltern Theater, June 6, 2014

To celebrate 25 years of busting eardrums, the mighty Meshuggah took to the road, stopping off at the Wiltern Theater in June to start the summer heat wave early.  With Geiger-esque artwork displayed behind them and a light show that blinded the eyes, putting the band in perpetual silhouette, Meshuggah ran through their catalog of mind-melting metal for a brutal 100 minute set.

Meshuggah kicked off the show with Tomas Haake pummelling his drums while lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström and bassist Dick Lövgren pounded on their guitar strings for Future Breed Machine. The fury and power they displayed from the get-go got the mosh pit moving and necks snapping.  Jens Kidman, the only one on stage to move around, bellowed and yelled at the top of his lungs, and while the lyrics were undecipherable, his passion was certainly evident.  Meshuggah are known for their  constantly evolving style, focusing on grooving rhythms flowing into hard riffed passages leading into more abstract sections featuring Thordendal’s stunning displays of guitar abuse and beautiful virtuosity.  The title track from Obzen followed, keeping the energy going, with stunning guitar interplay towards the end.

SONY DSCTheir latest album Koloss was most heavily featured in the set, the first of four songs was the hardcore hurricane of The Hurt that Finds You First, with a breakneck beat and ear-numbing growls from Kidman, bass guitar bends from Lovgren and an epic yet subtle guitar solo from Thordendal.  Do Not Look Down, also from  Koloss, was one of the most accessible songs of the night with a razor sharp focus on groove and finger-shredding guitar solos.  Cadaverous Mastication from their first album Contradictions Collapse in 1991 showed the band’s beginnings in the Thrash Metal vein, with more traditional arrangements, yet with an air of larger things to come in their varied tempos and dichotomy of ugly noise and beautiful guitar soloing.

Gods of Rapture brought the show to an even higher level of tension with Thordendal and Hagstrom in lock-step with the rhythm section from the start, Kidman belting out his lyrics in hardcore fashion, threatening to be understandable, but Meshuggah can’t seem to stick with a tempo or rhythm, soon shifting into a jazz-fusion mode, Thordendal ‘s melodic soloing would make Joe Satriani proud and he put some warmth into the otherwise mechanical playing of the rest of the song.

After much more eardrum damage occurred, Meshuggah sped up our hearts even more with the speed metal pace of Bleed from Obzen, causing heads to bang harder and feet to move, the band kept the tempo for the majority of the song, with a few additions of subtle lead guitar parts to break up the tension the slightest bit. Then the band drops out, leaving just a creepy quiet guitar line before the rest of the band jumps back in, this time with a more powerful melodic guitar lead accompanied by chugging guitars and well-paced percussion.

Meshuggah finished the main set with Straws Pulled at Random, from 2001′s Nothing, full of cymbal crashes and right-angled tempo and rhythm changes that while chaotic was still stunning to behold.

While the audience chanted “Meh-Shuh-GAH!” I took a moment to gather my wits, take a few deep breathes and ready myself for the sure-to-be insane encore.  While we waited, Catch 33‘s spoken word and noise poem Mind’s Mirror played over the speakers.  The band returned to kick our asses all over the Wiltern with In Death – is Life and In Death  – is Death, two connected tracks of barely controlled chaos, guitar pyrotechnics, buzzing bass and quieter, spooky atonal passages.

As the bright lights blazed our corneas and we pounded our strife and hatred into the floor, Meshuggah left us with energy spent, sweat soaked and brain rattled, not sure of what tomorrow might bring but strong enough to meet it head on.  If you can survive the metal massacre that is Meshuggah you can take on the world.

(Photos and review by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Official Website
Nuclear Blast USA
Facebook
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