Category Archives: Hardcore

Vital Signs

vitalssignssmoke1Smoke and Mirrors by Vital Signs (Imminence Records)

The explosive Vital Signs is already showing signs of an astounding pulse, even at this stage of their career. Featuring ex-members of Ace Augustine, An Early Ending and I Am History, Vital Signs is destined to break out of the Pennsylvania music scene – especially if their new EP Smoke and Mirrors is indicative of greater glories ahead. Imminence Records has unleashed a winner with this one, kicking off the New Year with a bang!

vitalsignspic1Smokes and Mirrors commences with Sound Of The End, an impressive cut that should instantly hook the listener in with its vibrant intensity. Dear Death is a stunning highlight with its devastating “there must be something more than this God forsaken world” lyrical content and crushing melodies. After a brief instrumental Interlude, The Chosen smashes into your psyche with its heavier than hell inflections and thunderous breakdowns. And then closing out the recording way too soon is the spiraling title cut Smoke and Mirrors, ambitious in scope, leaving the listener wanting to hear a whole lot more.

The musicians contributing to the stirring heartbeat of Vital Signs include Alex Runk on vocals, Alex Bolton on guitar, Bryan Merriman on guitar, Frankie Donaldson on bass, and Patrick Sherman on drums.  If you are a fan of Memphis May Fire and The Color Morale, expect your pulse to race into the stratosphere when encountering the exhilarating sounds of Vital Signs.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Palisades

mindgamesMind Games by Palisades (Rise Records)

With the second full-length recording by Palisades, it looks like the New Jersey based outfit and their label Rise Records are kicking off the New Year with a sonic bang! Mind Games is the kind of album that screams “breakthrough,” and the ten songs found within will surely captivate music fans from all walks of life. Merging highly charged clean vocals with driving breakdowns and EDM inflections, Palisades has established their sound in a vast and exciting way. It’s early on in 2015, but there is no doubt that Mind Games will be a highlight of the year for many a music fan when all is said and done.

Player Haters’ Ball is the perfect commencement for Mind Games, where the old sound of Palisades collides with the vibrant present, and the results are nothing short of astounding. Featured on this first cut is the participation of Blackbear, an artist on the rise who own work such as The Afterglow EP is well worth seeking out.

palisades2015No Chaser cements the fact that these new Palisades songs wildly infectious, featuring epic choruses that will be embedded in your head for ages! Bad Girls is explosive and rapturous, featuring lyrics such as “I’ll says the thing that they won’t say and I’ll do the things that make your legs shake,” and the finality of “She’s going home with me” ringing persuasive at the track’s conclusion.

The triumphant title track Mind Games is up next, featuring the participation of Champs and the promise of “Never again will I let you f*ck with my head” pulsating throughout vividly the song. Whatever You Want It To Be then continues on with the empowerment over a difficult relationship, featuring a chorus that rages into the stratosphere. Afraid flies into the face of adversity, a trademark in any Palisades song, containing a good deal of passion and intensity from all musicians involved.

People Like Us is a standout cut, complete with heart pounding dance beats and a stirring guest appearance by Garrett Rapp on The Color Morale. “Your love is a battlefield” is the call to arms in the grooving Like A Drug followed by the heavy inflections of True Blood that sends the room spinning into orbit. And then closing out Mind Games is the Come Over And Watch Netflix, ending the proceedings with a beat so driving and infectious that you’ll want to dance it out to the memorable “take me back” lyrical incantation. This last song shows Palisades at their most imagination and radio friendly.

There is no sophomore slump to be found within the vestiges of Mind Games – just a collection of tracks you’ll want to revisit time and again. The Palisades membership who bring on the dance party include the participation of Louis Miceli on vocals, Matt Marshall on guitar, Xavier Adames on guitar and vocals, Earl Halasan as Producer and DJ, Brandon Sidney on bass, and Aaron Rosa on drums. Be sure to jam the wondrous Mind Games by Palisades and get ready to launch into 2015 with style and flair!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Her Pride

herpridecover1When The Ravens Call by Her Pride (Self-released EP)

With the unveiling of When The Ravens Call by Her Pride, the New Year 2015 kicks off in an exhilarating way. Featured are five tracks of sheer sonic intensity that should garner Her Pride a good deal of attention. Possessing a diversity yet maintaining a seething heaviness throughout, When The Ravens Call is a high flying debut that will captivate the senses of metalcore fans everywhere.

First up is the rapturous title track, instantly grabbing the listener by throat with its vibrant intensity. The Forgetting Bottle then unleashes an earth shattering fury, slamming into the listener with a mighty sense of ferocity. This memorable cut features the participation of Ray Prichard of the late, great Seladora. Play It Again, Brian is relentless and driving, and should ignite ferocious mosh pit action when performed live.

herpride2014Wooden Bones is ambitious in scope, with a through-the-roof magnetism that sends this sweeping cut into the stratosphere. And then closing out this raging journey is the outstanding A Trail Leading Back, featuring haunting clean vocals in the chorus demonstrating another imaginative side to the Her Pride experience.

The Her Pride lineup of talent consists of Jonathan Carlo on bass, Ian Josey on vocals, Will McGhee on guitar, and Chase Myers on drums. The self-released EP was recorded and produced with ingenuity and flair by the aforementioned Ray Prichard at Tunnel Vision Audio.  With a debut as thrilling as When The Ravens Call, it will be exciting to see what the future has in store for this explosive Southern collective on the rise.

Her Pride will be playing their first ever show at Green Light Sound Studio in Augusta, GA on February 13th.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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For All I Am

nohome2No Home by For All I Am (InVogue Records)

For All I Am has been through a world of change since Skinwalker was unveiled at beginning of 2013, including the loss of key band members and a surprise parting with Equal Vision Records. And while Skinwalker was well received, For All I Am was flying under the radar of many – in spite of relentless touring with live performances that would shatter the senses. No Home is their second full length recording – and first with their new label InVogue Records. And instead of encountering that legendary sophomore slump that has plagued many a band, No Home is a devastating accomplishment that should garner the band a good deal of attention.

In an interview with Highwire Daze, front man Aria Yava stated that the title No Home, “depicts the thought of you not being comfortable in your own mind.” The 11 songs found within take the listener on the journey through a personal darkness, and the results found within are definitively captivation. Six Souls kicks the disc off on an overpowering note, with vocalist Aria Yava screaming “I’m fucking losing it” with a shattering sense of urgency. Tunnel Vision then explodes into your psyche with a fiery sense of liberation followed by the darkness which envelopes the soul with the hardened reprieves of Out Of Line. “How do you think you could ask me for more?” rings out as a blistering account of friendship and betrayal.

foralliam2014_2Young Grave is performed with a remarkable amount of clean vocals and a melodic soundscape, showing a different side to For All I Am which still retaining the album’s vibrant intensity. The soul ripping then goes back into hypersonic gear when Yava muses “Today I do not have a heart” at the commencement on the fiery Slip-Up. Bad Nature features blazing guitars and a kaleidoscopic keyboard underscore that sends this wildly potent song into the stratosphere with the “what else do we have to lose” verbal expulsions. “Do we truly feel content living this way?” is the question the track poses, with no easy answers in sight.

The ferocity rages in Black Sheep, a thrashing opus that is relentless in scope with its “Put yourself in check bitch” recriminations searing through the sonic devastation. The pulsating Caring Is The New Currency then commences, further leading the listener into an intriguing despair. A calming release with the morose entreaties of Inward follows, exploding into a torrential wall of desperation.

Wake Me Up shows the art of falling apart with deeply personal lyrics combined with gripping performances from each and every members of the band. And then closing out No Home is the powerhouse Swallowed Alive, where the uneasy sentiments of “all these thoughts are filled with pain” ring within your mind long after the disc spins to its foreboding conclusion.

As in life, there are no easy answers to the bitter problems and personal demons that consume us all. And in spite of its many bleak conclusions, No Home is a wondrously cathartic piece of artistry that many a music fan will be able to relate with.  Charismatic front man Aria Yava’s delivers the emotional lyrics with a ferocious amount of conviction that is near mesmerizing. Tom Crisp supplies a dynamic wall of atmospheric sound on guitar while drummer Aaron Martinez and bassist Mario Roche drive it all home with an all-out vengeance. No Home is a gripping auditory adventure through the turbulence of the heart and mind that is not to be missed.

(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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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 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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Nightmares

SuspiriaSuspiria by Nightmares (Rise Records)

Based out of Atlanta, GA, Nightmares is a vibrant collective ready to break out on the national scene in a colossal way. The most exciting and imaginative release Rise Records has presented since Crown The Empire contemplated love at in the end of the world on The Fallout, Suspiria by Nightmares is a stunning debut that is not to be missed. With a lot of the songs named after legendary horror movies combined with hard hitting lyrics and spiraling melodies, Suspiria is a rocking post hardcore journey sure to dazzle the senses of even the most jaded of music critic.

Nightmares-Press-Photo-300x200_2Frontiers opens the quest with magnetic force – “it’s like a hurricane” the chorus urges with a powerhouse sense of force and conviction. Let The Right One In is a standout track that will be all-out anthem Nightmares is remembered for in the years ahead, complete with a thunderous “I don’t want to wait to live forever” lyric that grabs you by the throat. In The Mouth Of Madness is a cut of stratospheric proportions, featuring a guest appearance by none other than Tyler Carter of Issues.

The horror movie references really slam into high gear with the ferocious strains of Tourist Trap, followed by the down and dirty reprieves of the monstrous Cujo. Carnival Of Souls weaves its dark magic in your ears before exploding into a massive barrage of sonic intensity. “It’s hard to say what makes a person fade away to gray,” the lyrics concede ominously.

Enter The Void continues the trip into intriguing darkness, with impassioned screamed vocals and the dark grunge-like singing of “I saw the light” coming across as both tantalizing and foreboding. “Heart of gold, heart of gold,” urges the beginning of the truly menacing The Tommyknockers, once again showing just how thrilling and persuasive the music of Nightmares is.

You just want to crucify me,” opens the mighty Hands Of The Ripper, whose lyrics are destined to be sang along with fiendish glee by audiences all across the country. The title track Suspiria smashes through your system with a fierce relentlessness. And then closing out the album is Irreversible, where the scream of “Am I alive” rips through the soul – a staggering denouement to be sure!

The musicianship found within Nightmares possesses a good deal of vision and intrigue, featuring the participation of Carter Hardin on vocals, Mike Smith on guitar, Jimmy Griffin on guitar, Turner Wood on bass, and David Angle on drums. A true contender for many a Top Ten list when 2014 spins to an end, Suspiria by Nightmares is an auditory adventure that heavy music fans will want to relive time and again!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Annisokay

annisokay3_400x_2The Lucid Dream[er] by Annisokay (SPV / Steamhammer Records)

Although SPV / Steamhammer Records may be best known for their expansive catalog of hard rock and heavy metal, the iconic label has recently launched in other styles of music. Their latest adventure is towards the now popular post hardcore / screamo genre, and they have unearthed a truly exciting discovery. Annisokay is the name of the collective, based out of Germany, and well on their way to taking the world by storm. With an already impressive fan following in Europe and Japan, it won’t be long before Annisokay conquers the United States – especially if their SPV debut The Lucid Dream[er] is indicative of greater glories ahead. The digital version is being released in the States featuring 14 thunderous tracks that will exhilarate the senses.

annis3_400Opening with the ultra-dynamic refrain refrains of The Final Round, Annisokay instantly hooks the listener in with a haunting intro-duction followed by a thrilling intensity that soars into the stratosphere. Sky then crashes through the ozone layer with its spiraling choruses. Anniversary features an intriguing heaviness that maintains your undivided attention. Firewalk both scorches and haunts the mind with its heated reverberations. Annisokay then scares up the topnotch Monstercrazy, an all-out anthem that should garner the band a colossal heap of worldwide praise.

Who Am I is a standout power ballad, exploding into a collage of emotion at its powerhouse conclusion. The pedal is then placed firmly back to the metal when The Believer slams into your speakers with a ferocious conviction. Insanity fills the atmosphere with a vibrant sense of passion and unease, followed by the wondrously infectious strains of Ghost In Me. By The Time dazzles with its “you want me to be in your life again” sentiments tearing into the heart of things.

Where Do I Start is surely designed to set slam pits across the world in flight with its rousing tempo and super intense vocalizations. Day To Day Tragedy is another massive highlight, showing Annisokay at the very height of their songwriting and performing prowess. Wasted & Useful teems with emotion and edginess, providing a staggering conclusion to the album that will linger frenetically within your mind. And then as an extra special bonus, The Final Round (HoppiTronic Remix) is included – a sweeping electronic remix that should induce mayhem and havoc on the dance floor.

The Annisokay lineup features a collection of talented and charismatic musicians, including Dave Grunewald on shouts, Christoph Wieczorek on clean vocals and guitar, Norbert Roseo on bass, Daniel Herrmann on drums, and Philipp Kretzschmar on guitar. A release one would expect from a label such as Fearless or Rise Records, The Lucid Dream[er] by Annisokay is sure to launch SPV firmly into the post hardcore arena. An epic debut from a band we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the days ahead.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Fairweather

fairweather coverFairweather by Fairweather (Equal Vision)

It’s been eleven years since Washington DC’s Fairweather packed it up. Now the spring of 2014 and the boys show us a whole new bag full of hardcore, tight song structures, crazy guitar flourishes, powerful percussion, more forceful vocals and an overall focused and mature sound. And did I mention the grooving rhythms? Shit, their S/T comeback kicks your ass from the opening chords and hardcore tempo of Carte Blanche. Let the moshing begin. Yet the band tempers even this minute long song with a slower yet powerful second half and background vocal “oohs”.

Reset Position keeps the energy with buzzing guitars, a fast pace and Jay Littleton spitting his trebly vocals with grit. Ben Murphy’s bass and Shane Johnson’s drums set the groove for Ben Green and Peter Tsouras to lay their power chords and slashing solos within, and damned if your not banging your head and sweating already. Survival Is Not Enough sets a bigger groove, slowing the pace a bit, Littleton singing harmoniously, a hard rocking song with muscle and introspection. fairweather band photoMemoria opens with minor key guitar scratching and dramatic rhythms, Littleton singing about memories and secrets and drowning, inviting you to further interpret his lyrics as you close your eyes and nod your head to the beat.

Doubt the Doubtless is both tough and catchy, closer to their debut sound yet leaner and meaner. Johnson gives his skins and cymbals a beating on Kill the Silence, slowing down to build up tension then rocking out once again. Last Words brings out the beauty of a well-paced song, starting out slow and pretty then taking us on a roller-coaster ride up and down tempos and emotions. Still Waiting features some interesting percussive textures and searing guitar interplay between Tsouras and Green, Littleton’s vocals clean and unadorned, harmonizing with Green, creating emotional catharthis when the song slows down at the end only to rise up to a powerful crescendo of crashing cymbals and six-string flourishes. Fairweather wrap up their S/T album with No Flags To Fly. Beginining with a chugging verse the band build tension towards a thrilling and catchy chorus, the band surprise with a soulfullness in their instrumental interplay as well as a bare-it-all vocal performance by Littleton

(by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
facebook.com/fairweatherdc
twitter.com/fairweatherdc
fairweatherdc.com
merchnow.com/catalogs/fairweather
equalvision.com
facebook.com/equalvision
twitter.com/equalvision
blog.equalvision.com

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