Category Archives: Reviews


erasure1The Violet Flame by Erasure (Mute Records)

I actually enjoy this whole CD, and the deeper you get into it, the better it gets. The Violet Flame is the 16th studio album from UK electro-pop duo which has lasted close now to nearly 30 years in the music pop business. The music will sound like the old 1980’s synth style we have become a custom to. You’ll still find Andy Bell’s crystal lush vocals ringing out over Vince Clarke’s upbeat lavish melodies. The album comes across as a lightness of touch which makes you enjoy the bass dance background beat to get you moving faster. Many of the songs are infectious. My favorite song on here would make for a great video which is: Under The Wave. Under The Wave would also work well for radio. This CD is one of those that grows on you with each listen. This was really a nice treat because I had to really listen to the whole CD this time around instead of only getting a couple of great tracks. Listen to other great songs on here as well such as Paradise, Be The One, Elevation and Promises.

The Violet Flame is a great comeback to last year’s great package Snow Globe for Christmas. As a matter of fact the same producer from Snow Globe is the one who is also producing The Violet Flame. The Violent Flame should get the best production and best overall produced album of the year.

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)

Erasure on Facebook


Raven and Night Demon at The Whisky

raven1jl1Raven, Night Demon, The Whisky, October 20, 2014

The Dream of the 80s is alive, not in Portland, nor at the Inferno, but live at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

I’ve been hearing great things about this band from Ventura called Night Demon. My friends have been raving about them, saying that bands like this make it fun to go to thrash shows again. When I saw the totally awesome tour poster reminiscent of the Raven/Metallica Kill Em All For One tour posters in 83/84, with Night Demon replacing Metallica in the opening slot, I was excited in a way that made me believe I was going to experience something that I missed in the early 80s. I knew the Night Demon was a quality act and Raven is just legendary. I was not going to miss this show.

IMG_3240Being the 40-something fan-boy that I am, I show up early with my records and a sharpie. As I arrive I first run into Raven drummer Joe Hasselvander hanging out front. We are both from Washington, DC and have a few friends in common. I told him the first time I saw Raven was at the Warner Theatre in DC where they were opening for W.A.S.P. He told me he was at that show too. Then at the end of that tour the original drummer Wacko! quit. This is when Joe was asked to join. A few minutes later John Gallagher, the vocalist/bassist joins us. I introduce the band to the Highwire Daze staff members who are also arriving on the scene. Ken from Highwire Daze has the band do a couple station IDs for the website. John gets into character as he reads the script into the microphone. It was really touching to see other fans asking the band to sign their records. One kid had John authenticate an autographed record that was purchased on eBay. There are two kinds of people in this world, ones who love Raven and those who just haven’t really discovered them yet. The show hasn’t even started and I’m just stoked to be hanging out with these guys.

Apparently this tour has been a lot like the Social Distortion/Youth Brigade tour from the Another State of Mind documentary of the early 80s. Except these guys aren’t teenagers anymore. I’ve been following the band’s FB updates about vans breaking down and needing repairs. I was chatting with the merch guy, Richard at the merch booth and joked with him, “So you’re the roadie?” He said, “They carry my stuff!” So this kind of paints a picture of what was happing here. Four men over age 50 touring the States and Canada in a broken down tour bus acting as their own road crew. These guys are punk as fuck!

nightdemon1jl1Night Demon hits the stage literally minutes after being interviewed by Ken from Highwire Daze. THANKS SO MUCH GUYS!! They killed it. If you hate that Hot Topic exists, then you will be relieved to know that Night Demon does too. These guys bring fun back into Satanism. But it’s no joke. These guys are not a parody of 80s thrash, they are just younger dudes who for some reason are not at the Van’s Warped tour and are ripping through some kick ass songs about Satan and such. Definitely check them out when you can.

raven2jl2Next up, the mighty Raven. I’ve been a fan since the early 80s. I had their patch on my jean jacket in middle school. So yeah, this review will be biased. Fuck it. When the term Athletic Rock is coined because of your band and you want to continue that band well into your 50s, then you’ve got gumption. I love that these guys are still out there doing it. Their music and enthusiasm still has all the super-hyper energy it had when I first saw them in the mid 80s. John’s vocals are just as strong as ever and honestly, I never noticed how awesome Joe’s drumming was until this show. Such great fills and consistency and no triggers! These guys came from a time when musicians had to actually be good at their craft- a time before triggers and auto-tune. I was hoping to hear a few songs from the latest Walk Through Fire record but they stuck to a strictly vintage set. The classics, plus a few cool teasers from the new cover album called Party Killers. They do a great impression of Budgie.

ravI really enjoyed the math-rock persistent false-start section of the set. They were fucking around starting what sounded like the Raven songs but they would abruptly stop after a few seconds and false start another one. Just keeping us on our toes. Interestingly, it illustrated how well these guys can burst with energy from using just a few beats of a drum and a simple guitar riff. The Walk Through Fire record really illustrates their talent for song writing too. I highly recommend it. Great production, too. I stayed for the entire show, even though I had to work the next day! It was a great show. They played a good long set with extended guitar and bass solos. I look forward to more music and concerts from these guys for years to come. Which reminds me, if YOU want to hear more music from these guys, help fund their next record by going to and contribute to their Kickstarter campaign from now till November 29th 2014.

(Review and Album Photo by Rich Dolinger – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

Raven on Facebook


Gerard Way at The Fonda Theater

gerardwaytf1Gerard Way, The Fonda Theater, October 14, 2014

Having missed my chance to see My Chemical Romance before they split, I took the opportunity to see Gerard Way at The Fonda Theater in Hollywood on October 14th. Way is currently on tour debuting his new solo album, his new material has an incredibly different feel from his previous work with MCR, and Way himself cites his return to his Britpop, and Glam Rock with influences such as The Smiths & David Bowie.

Both stops in Hollywood sold out for Gerard and his band, the Fonda was packed downstairs and up with many My Chemical Romance fans converting into Gerard fans. He and the band came out on stage with “The Bureau”, the first track off the album. He then played his first single “Action Cat” which got everyone singing along. In the middle of his set before he begins to play “Drugstore Perfume”, he introduces the song by letting everyone know it’s about his wife, Lindsey (Lyn-Z) and explains how much he loves her.

gerardwaytf2There was a cluster of girls there, many more than guys. That did not go unnoticed by Gerard, before he played “Television All the Time” he gave a mellow, lifting speech on feminism. He was kindly talking about how hard women have it sometimes, and he said something similar like women get treated the way they do because men are scared of women’s abilities and don’t want to lose their job. He is obviously a supporter of the whole feminist movement that’s become recently more active. After the speech, he then continued on to playing “Television All the Time” which was only released in Japan so it was a treat for everyone.

Gerard’s brother, Mikey Way happened to be at the show; before he begins to play “Brother”, he gives his brother a shout out and says, “This song is for my brother, I love you”. There were many guests at the show that he loves, but he also loves his fans and it was nice to hear how appreciative Gerard is, it made him out to be a modest musician. After he played “Brother,” he asks the crowd who wants to go up on stage and play his tambourine for the next song. Everyone goes nuts, jumping up and down and shouting, wanting that opportunity so bad. He chose a young girl who he said looked like a familiar face from previous shows he’s played, and starts playing “Get the Gang Together”.

At the close of the show, Gerard and the band exit the stage, the curtains close and the house music goes on. Everyone in the venue starts to chant, “One more song,” for a couple minutes, then starts to chant, “Gerard Way”. The chanting went on for a good seven minutes until everyone realizes he’s not coming back out to play an encore which was odd. Then everyone started to leave with smiles on their faces, telling their friends how good the show was and how much they enjoyed it.

In conclusion, Gerard Way’s new solo project is a huge success and he’s quite the performer, and one of the best singers of this millennial era whose energy is contagious. He had an amazing crowd, some great sound, successful new music, and a great show. On tour for the release of “Hesitant Alien”, Gerard Way and his band will be playing the album front to back with a few covers.

The Bureau
Action Cat
Zero Zero
Drugstore Perfume
Television All the Time (written on the setlist as “Stop Leaving”)
The Water Is Wide (O Waly, Waly) – (James Cecil cover)
Get the Gang Together
How It’s Going to Be
Maya the Psychic
No Shows
Snakedriver (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

Gerard Way on Facebook


In Flames

siren-charmsSiren Charms by In Flames (Epic Records)

There’s plenty of bands that started out metal and went on to something else: The Gathering turned their back on metal adding influences from Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins to their style, Anathema evolved into a more atmospheric rock band and Cynic turned into a progressive, ambient, jazz, rock amalgam that is a thrill to hear. On their two most recent albums Opeth channels pastoral and psychedelic bands of old without losing their own past heaviness. And there are plenty of bands that incorporate pop elements into their metal.  In Flames want to be catchy and accessible and metal all at the same time.  After two decades of causing neck damage they continue to experiment with textures, vocal approaches and rhythms searching for that one (or, hopefully, an album’s worth) great pop metal song.

in-flames-2014-640x400On Siren Charms  the band sounds eager to bring in new ears. In Plain View balances heavy & hard with a softer side in Anders Friden’s varied vocals, swinging from anguished clean singing to gut-punching screaming in the chorus, it’s all crisp and shiny and razor sharp.  Everything Is Gone combines several tempos, Daniel Svensson showing off his skills, speed punk one second, double bass kicks the next, then slamming into an all-out brutal metal part.  Paralyzed sounds like In Flames’  version of a post-apocalyptic love ballad with Orjan Ornkloo’s buzzing synths and Friden’s singing about being out on our own in a wasteland.

With Eyes Wide Open begins with harmonized guitars leading to a very catchy rock ballad, the keyboards way in the background, Friden singing clear and strong, Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin’s guitars shining through for maximum uplift.  When Worlds Collide remind you In Flames can do dangerous and they don’t disappoint. Swedish opera singer Emilia Feldt joins in with her sexy croon and angelic fills to add a sense of wonder.

Creeping up towards the end of Siren Charms, on Monsters In The Ballroom, In Flames tempers what’s mainly a soaring and heroic rock song with screamed vocals and chugging and harmonized guitar riffs. The crunchiness and double kick drum finale is especially satisfying for the headbanging.  To wrap up the album, Filtered Truth features Peter Iwers’ bass, carrying the melody along with Ornkloo’s keyboards, Friden screaming about the rage inside as the guitars and drums burn and crash.

In Flames will be on the Siren Communion Tour with Red Fang and Opeth this winter and will play the Hollywood Palladium on December 9th.

(Review by Bret Miller)




Engineers_-_Always_ReturningAlways Returning by Engineers (KScope Records)

Until speaking with electronic producer Ulrich Schnauss for an interview for the last album A Long Way To Fall, the music of Mark Peters and his band Engineers had flown under my radar. Little did I know how much I’d love his music.  The band is multi-instrumentalist Peters, Schnauss  and drummer/keyboardist Matthew Gilbert Lindley (who releases music as “Gilbert“).  Always Returning is full of pretty songs that would float off into the clouds if it weren’t for the talents behind their making. There’s a sense of sadness and longing permeating the album giving many songs a compelling emotional weight.

engineers band shotOne of the many incredible songs on Always Returning is Fight or Flight where synths swell and wash over the song, electronics perco-lating and dancing throughout.  One of the most blissful songs you’ll likely hear for years to come. It Rings So True showcases a mesmerizing guitar lead, lightly accompanied by keyboards, Peters’ close-mic’ed voice drawing you in and building suspense and mystery.  The final minute of the song is an understated prog rock masterpiece.

Drive Your Car begins with pretty piano and Peters’ quiet vocals, acoustic guitar and swirling synths join in, rising into a rocking climax with a buzzing electric guitar lead dueling with an energetic piano performance.   Innsbruck presents a tight and bright guitar pattern that is played off of by Schnauss’ keyboards and powerful drumming by Linley.  The song is reminiscent of New Order’s instrumental Thieves Like Us with its cautious optimism and colorful outbursts of guitar and piano.

Smiling Back is a hazy nostalgic song with echoes of early Pink Floyd in their slower more introspective moments.  On Smoke and Mirrors Peters’ piano and guitar and Schnauss’ motorik synth loops meld wonderfully.  A Million Voices is a straight-up rock song, though one coming from the corner of synth-pop, Peters’ whispy vocals float through a peppy beat, shiny keyboards and a thrumming bass guitar.

Closing Always Returning, the title track offers so many memorable melodies that I found myself humming the piano refrain this morning. The song somehow sounds both sad and uplifting until the final third where the guitars, bass and piano riff off each other fading into the heavens.

Peters and Schnauss have also collaborated on two albums under their own names.  Both albums released on Bureau B, link below.

(Review by Bret Miller)

Bureau B Records



greychapter1.5: The Gray Chapter by Slipknot
(Roadrunner Records)


What can one say about them? Since their break into the music scene in 1999 with their genre changing Self Titled album, to the extremely sadistic Iowa, toning it down a few years later with Vol 3. The Subliminal Versus, to the there amazing comeback in 2009 with All Hope is Gone many people have asked what more they could do? With the death of beloved bassist and co-founder Paul Gray in 2010, and the departure of powerhouse drummer Joey Jordison in late 2013, many, including myself thought the band was finished and over with. I can’t even tell you how wrong we were.

A few months back after the drama had subsided, all of Slipknot’s social media had literally, gone black. There was nothing. Out of nowhere random words started to be posted. With this tease everyone began to regain hope that the Knot would return. On August 1st 2014, the nay Sayers sure had to bite their own tongue with the release of their first song in 5 years, The Negative One. Every Slipknot album to date has been extremely different from one another each having its own special factors. With the release of only one song, The Negative One takes every aspect of Slipknot that we all love and crams it into one song. The pure energy emitting from the lyrics sparks feelings of anger and sadness almost instantly. After a few more weeks, a music video was released for the first official single of the new album; along with a music video for the song The Devil In I which metaphorically punched everybody in the face. With heavy riffs to strong and meaningful lyrics the first single of the album is sure to make every new and old Slipknot fan happy. The music video also features two new members on bass and drums, the identities of which are still to this day unknown, and Slipknot plans to keep it that way. Although the bassist has been pretty much guaranteed, we will keep the name to ourselves out of respect to Slipknot.

A lot of times when reviewing an album it is hard to get through, not because the music is bad, but because ever so often the music sounds so repetitive and the same as the bands last album. With the release of Slipknot’s fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter, it is sure to shock everyone. This record has given me no trouble in writing about it due to how solid it is from start to finish.

slipknot2014The first song  XIX is more of an intro into the album. With bagpipes and what sounds like solders marching in the background, Vocalist Corey Taylor sings with such grief and anger that it immediately puts you in the mood to listen to a Slipknot album. With lyrics such as “Nothing appeals to me, no one feels like me, I’m to busy being calm to disappear”, the song is a perfect intro in the record.  Continuing with the slow sounding intro but this time with a soft guitar riff the second song Sarcastrophe begins, after a few seconds a powerful distorted band comes in. With a particularly impressive drum fill (WHO IS IT?!), the band comes in with a fast paced classic Slipknot riff. The emotion that comes to mind with Sarcastrophe is panic. The intense screams of Corey Taylor and the riffs by guitarists James Root and Mick Thomson, this song will definitely hit you in a way you would never imagine.

In the middle of the album a song by the name of Skeptic plays. This song is most likely very special to the band because it is obviously about Paul Gray. With lyrics such as “There will never be another crazy mother fucker like you” and “You were the best of us,” a dedication to Paul Gray this song surely is.

A song that stood out to me that was particularly different was Killpop. Emitting emotions of grieving, sadness and depression, you really hear the pain that this band is feeling. Towards the end of the album you hear some truly classic heavy Slipknot with my two favorite songs, Custer and Nomadic. These two songs really bring the band together as a whole. These two songs really bring the remaining members into the picture. With percussionists Chris Fein and Shawn “Clown” Crahan, and DJ’s Sid Wilson and Craig Jones, these two songs scream aggression. Going all the way back two Iowa, which many say is Slipknot’s most aggressive and heavy album, these two songs are as hardcore Slipknot as it gets. Prepare to go crazy when you hear them. Sid Wilson and Craig Jones surely add a side of crazy to this album. Any band can be 2 guitars a drummer and a bassist, but with these two it brings a sense of insanity to the music that helps define what Slipknot truly is.

All in all, Slipknot’s fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter is absolutely perfect. Front to back this album puts you through every emotion that is possible to feel. I will say that a lot of people were worried that the new drummer, who ever he (or she?) is, would not be able live up to Joey Jordisons style. Let me assure you that although it is not Joey, whoever this guy is the perfect choice besides Joey. This record takes old and new Slipknot and puts it together in sweet, sweet harmony. With amazingly heavy songs, heartfelt lyrics this will take you through a wild ride. When listening to the album, don’t be bitter because its not him, because trust me, this guy is great. .5: The Gray Chapter hits stores on October 21st. Be prepared for a ride through hell and back. This album will not disappoint and makes me proud to be a Slipknot fan.

(Review by Edward Brandon)

Slipknot on Facebook



exodus coverBlood In, Blood Out by Exodus (Nuclear Blast Records)

The tenth studio album by Exodus grabs you by the throat and throws you into the mosh pit from the opening minutes of their new album Blood In, Blood Out.  Guitarist and leader Gary Holt has paired down the Exodus sound and this is their best album in years, if not their whole career.  While Exodus hasn’t enjoyed the success of some of their peers they have sold over five million records in their 34 year career and they continue to create compelling and complex metal that is both visceral and violent and a whole lot of head-banging fun.  Original singer Steve “Zetro” Souza also returns to the fold bringing even more energy to the songs that Holt had written.  Souza’s vocals are a thrill to hear, as he wails, growls, chants and raps his way through the songs.  Sparks fly off the guitars of Holt and Lee Arbus, solos attack  you like the chest-bursting Alien, Jack Gibson’s bass sounds like he’s using bridge support wires and Tom Hunting excels at both a fast punk beat and the slower tempos, a powerhouse of a drummer.  Kirk Hammett offers a guitar solo for the anthemic Salt The Wound, Testament’s Chuck Billy roars over the end of BTK.

(Photo by Bruce Getty)

(Photo by Bruce Getty)

On Black 13, the title track, Salt the Wound, Body Harvest  and the rest of the album the band play like men half their age, seemingly revitalized and ready to prove to themselves, if not the rest of the world they’ve still got what it takes to blow minds and speakers.  This is driving music, metal to kick-start your heart, audio defribullators to remind you you’re alive.

Exodus get more complex  in their arrangements for the second half of the album, slowing down only a little, crafting a convoluted yet powerful middle section for Wrapped in the Arms of Rage, with also features many awesome guitar leads.  Food For The Worms is how you’ll feel after being battered and bruised by the last song on Blood In, Blood Out, a go-for-broke song that alternates between stupid fast beats and heaviosity that still remains accessible.

Blood In, Blood Out is a career high for Exodus, joining  fellow thrashers Testament and Anthrax who have both recently released their best albums to date.

(Review by Bret Miller)

Exodus’s website
Nuclear Blast


Zola Jesus

zolajesustaiga1500_6Taiga by Zola Jesus (Mute Records)

Nika Roza Danilova’s Zola Jesus releases are works of a singular talent, made by someone willing to experiment with styles, textures, traditional instruments and a voice that shines through strong and has an emotional weight not heard often enough in modern music. Listening through Danilova’s back catalog of EPs and full length albums brightness shines through the dark, upbeat tempos burst out of seemingly gloomy mood music, pop songs are buried in goth/industrial trappings yet always with Danilova’s voice the prominent instrument, the ship you ride through the storm.

To ground  the music of Taiga, Danilova and her husband spent time on Vashon Island, a forest island in the Puget Sound near Seattle, only reachable by ferry.  She wrote the songs there in the peaceful, natural surroundings.  Taiga is a word that refers to Coniferous forests, the likes that cover over 1/5 of the northern hemisphere, specifically in Russia and Siberia.  Places removed from people and technology where the chatter of the modern world is replaced by the sounds of wind through the trees, the bending of branches, the chatter of birds, the melting of ice.  Danilova then took her songs and with the aid of co-producer Dean Hurley, who has worked as a sound editor and music arranger for the likes of David Lynch, crafted a collection of beautiful, mysterious and heartfelt songs.

(Photo by Jeff Elstone)

(Photo by Jeff Elstone)

Danilova also wisely couched some of the incredible songs on Taiga in the framework of modern music, mainly that of the dancefloor-ready pop songs of today.

The opening title track is our introduction: her heavenly layered voice repeating the word “taiga”, a blast of drum’n’bass, a shadowing of ominous horns.  Dangerous Days, is catchy and often light, yet has a delicious and dark undercurrent of churning and scraping synths that brings solidity to the song. Danilova sings sultry and soaring, drawing you into her world.  Dust is a torch song with horns that pepper the song, itchy electronics and a pretty breakdown at the end.  Hunger grabs you immediately with brash horns and pounding drums, Danilova growling “I got the hunger, I got the hunger in my veins/ I won’t surrender, still it takes me away” like a mantra.  Go* blends primal and earthly with heavenly and electronic elements, another cathartic chanted vocal delivery “And I say no, I say no one can stop me now/And I say no, I say no one can stop me now” that will have you wanting to follow her wherever she takes you.  While Ego does have sounds in it other than vocals, it’s Danilova’s voice that is front and center, clear and powerful, a Venus rising from the ocean.  Lawless starts up with clattering percussion and a creepy cool undertow backing soulful and searching vocals, then majestic strings join in and the song morphs into a brightly-colored butterfly.

Taiga closes with It’s Not Over, a song that combines Danilova’s love for both dark and brooding and big and bold, as she sings enigmatically about only she knows what, chanting “It’s not over tonight” at the end of the song making you believe that whatever she’s working through will have a positive outcome and she’ll be stronger for it.

The artist known as Zola Jesus is only 25 and Taiga took four years to make. Her new album reveals an intelligent and bold woman willing to bare her soul in her vocals even while her moving lyrics are pictures to be interpreted by the listener however they like.  And the music contains traditional and modern instrumentation with an ear towards the dancefloor while retaining a serious significance that will keep music fans interested and engaged for years to come.

Go was originally released in 2010 on the Valusia EP as Sea Talk.

(Review by Bret Miller)

Official Website
Video for Orbital’s New France (with Zola Jesus)



liftasail1Lift A Sail by Yellowcard (Razor & Tie Records)

Just off from being on this year’s Van Warped Tour 2014 as one of the headline bands, Lift A Sail marks for Yellowcard their seventh studio album. Lift A Sail is a personal album surrounding lead singer Ryan Keys’ wife suffering a spinal chord injury and the road to recovery.  At times the listener feels as if eavesdropping in on the emotional and physical pain that the band is feeling. This does give the album a more mature feeling to it. This expression is so different than the fast fun punk style that you are accustomed to from Yellowcard.

yellowcard2014Lift A Sail is absolutely inspiring with songs like: The Deepest Well and Convocation. Some of the other stand out songs are: California and Madrid. I just want an explanation to what the outstanding art work is all about as that really shows the maturity of the band. Any idea’s about this art work?  Lift A Sail is powerful, heartbreaking, and will ultimately lift your spirits!

(Review by Jonathan D. Wright)

Yellowcard on Facebook


Bring Me The Horizon at Shrine Expo Hall

bmthtl1Bring Me The Horizon, Shrine Expo Hall, September 24, 2014

Bring Me The Horizon at Shrine Expo Hall was nuts. Everyone there was so hyped to see them again since last been in the US during Warped Tour 2013.

They arrived on stage and and started their set with Shadow Moses off their latest album Sempiternal. The whole floor was flooded and the photo pit as well. I had little to no room to move around. Photographers were shoulder to shoulder.

bmthrl2Lee Malia was playing his new signature guitar model that night. The whole band just had an awesome set up. The venue was just rather large in every way possible. The song that got the very most hype was an oldie but goodie, Chelsea Smile off their older record Suicide Season. It definitely filled everyone’s head with memories, mine definitely filled with 8th/9th grade memories. It was a good revisit to the memories. Everyone just sang along to that song.

My favorite song they played that night was in my opinion their catchiest, Can You Feel My Heart. That’s got to be my favorite song off their latest album. All in all, there were so many crowd surfers, it was unreal and just so packed. BMTH just got a massive, appreciative crowd. They ended their night with Antivist off their latest album, and everyone just kept chanting “ONE MORE SONG!”.

Set list:
Shadow Moses
Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake
The House Of Wolves
And The Snakes Start To Sing
Alligator Blood
Chelsea Smile
Can You Feel My Heart

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

Bring Me The Horizon on Facebook