Archive for Rock

Royal Republic – Weekend Man

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 25th January 2016 by mickbirchy

Royal Republic
Weekend Man
Garage Rock, Alt. Rock
Released: 26 February 2016
via Spinefarm Records

The Swedish rockers, Royal Republic return with a new powerhouse of an album in the form of “Weekend Man”.  Such an appropriate title as I haven’t listened to an alt. rock album in quite some time that makes me want to just get up and dance as much as this one does. The energy is just contagious, the band sounds like they’re having the time of their lives while making this album and it really shows because I’m having so much fun just listening to it.  “Weekend Man” is for people who want to switch off and just have fun, with the crazy lyrics and the light production work so the music isn’t really in your face.  Also, the simple but incredibly catchy hooks will have you singing and dancing all night.

It feels like a Britpop album, in the way that the sound is very cerebral and impactful but at the same time it has that thumping beat that Euro-pop seems to favour.  All wrapped up in a rock’n’roll style sound.  So there are lots of layers here. With all that mix of styles it’s nice that the songwriting is so simple, standard verse-chorus structure with catchy hooks and a hefty amount of repetition, it all makes for an album that will stick in your head for a while.  Songs like “Walk!” and “My Way” bring that heavy garage-rock style that made them popular to start with. Yet, tunes such as “Kung Fu Lovin” and “ When I See You Dance With Another” have that pop style that makes them such a versatile band. “Kung Fu Lovin” in particular is an interesting specimen with its rock sound very much downplayed for an upbeat tone.  Come to think of it, there isn’t a somber moment in the album, it’s all very much get up and go.

My own personal favourite tracks and the songs I would recommend checking out are the title track “Weekend Man” and “Baby”.  Both of these songs are tunes that would give you a good insight into what this album, and indeed the band, is all about.  Upbeat fun tunes that you can bop and groove along to.  Thinking of these songs makes me realise how much the funk genre must have influenced their sound, as they have that mid-80’s disco funk sound to them as well. Really, I can’t sing this album praises enough.  In a time where most hard and alternative rock music is deep and brooding, Royal Republic have made a fun party album. Only a few songs really deviate from this on this album. “American Dream”, “Follow The Sun” and “On Any Given Sunday” all have a more serious tone to them.  It’s definitely not unwelcome, in fact it’s really where my Britpop comparison stems from.  These are the songs that carry that cerebral sound.  It also has a jangly college rock sound that’s pretty endearing.

This is a cracking album and something that I think may brighten up your day no matter what mood you’re in.  Superb music and something I would be comfortable recommending to anyone.

5/5

Mick Birchall

Tó Pica – Is This The Best You Can Do?

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 10th December 2015 by Pieni

Tó Pica
“Is This The Best You Can Do?”
Metal/Rock
Released 30th September 2015
Via Premiere Music

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Tó Pica is such a veteran Portuguese guitar player that I’m surprised it took him so long to come up with a solo album. But then again, his involvement with other artists/bands is so extensive that the surprise may lay in how he found the time to do it…

First thing you need to know is that this isn’t a “guitarist’s album”, meaning you won’t hear intricate, overdone guitar pieces disguised as songs. Even “The Urge”, where the lack of vocals emphasizes the guitar, has a thick rhythm section and could belong to any top-notch metal band. And in the other instrumental song here, “And… Just Breathe”, the piano plays a bigger role than the guitar. So no, “Is This The Best You Can Do?” isn’t the reflection of a guitarist’s ego but a full band’s work; the solos have just the right measure of artfulness to show how skilled and talented Pica is.

Also, despite his experience dating back to I-don’t-know-how-many-ages-ago, this isn’t an old school album. Pica is a versatile and open-minded musician and so is the outcome of his work. From the more traditional “My Time Has Come” to the more alternative “The Tempest”, going though the whiff of prog in “Suspended Metamorphosis”, the inclusion of string arrangements in the acoustic “Taste My Blame” and the heartfelt emotion in the modern rock piece “Espelho” (mirror – my favorite), Pica and his friends bring you a dynamic mix of dashing songs. I can assure you the album title represents the sarcastic nature of the artist, not the traits of his work.

4,5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

The Paradigm Complex – Amygdalopolis

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 8th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

The Paradigm Complex
Amygdalopolis
Released November 1st 2015
Progressive rock
Self-released

The Paradigm Complex - Amygdalopolis

This is quite simply one of the most bizarre things I think I’ve ever had the pleasure to analyse in the process of reviewing music. Really weird. Really, really weird. The Paradigm Complex are the genuine stuff of twisted fever dreams, and have elevated themselves beyond the state of yet-another-prog-band, to actually using their instruments (including frontwoman Alexandra Pawlitka’s voice) to tell a story.

Drafted in from classic Hammer Horror films, themes from lycanthropy to extra-terrestrial abduction are used to break up the main track of almost an hour into mini-stories, each with their own, highly characterised musical backdrop, and engaging storytelling. It is powerfully tangible how much thought, effort and ingenuity has gone into the creation of what is not just a music release, but essentially a piece of art. A certain Mr Zombie would quite possibly be a little jealous (as a director) of the effectiveness of The Paradigm Complex’s cultural appropriation.

As the recording spirals through various atmospheres, it’s difficult to pin down any continuous comparison to other artists, but they are there. There is a film score flavour akin to John Carpenter colliding with Goblin, liberally splattered with classic prog and acid rock, while the vocals meld from Bjork into Lacuna Coil, into Angelspit, and back again. There is also a thread of metal sewn into the fabric, but this is not a metal album, per se; it simply encompasses some of that spirit.

The project in its entirety is held together very aptly with bleak interludes, which serve to complement the neighbouring movements, and amalgamate this as one fluid piece, an apocalyptic infection creeping up the listener’s spine. It’s one wild trip, and White Rabbit is going to have to try mighty hard to survive this audio conflict between War Of The Worlds and The Walking Dead.

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Mind Driller – Zirkus

Posted in CD, Industrial with tags , , , , , , , on 19th September 2015 by Pieni

Mind Driller
“Zirkus”
Industrial rock
Release: 25th June 2015
Via Red Mutante

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A few months ago, Mind Driller released their sophomore album “Zirkus”. And even if they have stronger tracks here to name the album after, I find “Zirkus” a title more than appropriate – once you hear it, you’ll find yourself dealing with a circus of emotions. Three voices (two male and one female) singing in three languages (English, German and Spanish) is already an interesting feature, but the music itself is just as attractive. I know that “industrial” and “German” in the same sentence will automatically light a neon sign reading “Rammstein” in your head (and okay, I admit there are a few occasions when the sound is somewhat similar), but the general outcome of Mind Driller is more vibrant and melodic than the grinding beats of Rammstein. Like “Lüg Mich An” or “Ich Bin Anders”, with their rock-ish vibe and catchy choruses. And Mind Driller are also able to seduce you into a goth/dark wave realm, through songs such as “Deadworld” and “Memories”. Rich in details and variations, “Zirkus” is a thorough and intense industrial album, from which I highlight “M4R10N3T4”, the aforementioned “Memories”, “Escape” and “Together (Chapter II)”.

I’m not very familiar with the Spanish industrial scene, but after listening to “Zirkus”, I dare saying that Mind Driller – along with Killus – are among the top bands that country produces within this genre.

4,5 / 5

By Renata “Pieni” Lino

Eisbrecher live in Helsinki

Posted in Gig, Industrial, Live with tags on 5th April 2015 by izaforestspirit

Vergeltung, Eisbrecher
Tavastia,
Helsinki, Finland
2nd April 2015

The Neue Deutsche Härte band Eisbrecher came to play one show in Finland. This time the concert was in Helsinki, a two to three hour car journey or bus ride away from where I live. It’s been a while since I’ve been there and this was my first time at that particular venue. Luckily it was easy to find and within walking distance of the bus station.

Vergeltung

The supporting act was a Russian band who played a mixture of industrial rock with elements of nu-metal. They were very energetic and well versed on how to entertain a crowd. Some of the tracks sounded decent but none were memorable enough to stay in my head. Also they were only on for half an hour which is not quite enough. 3.5/5

Eisbrecher

These guys were definitely worth the trip to Helsinki. Some people regard them as a watered-down version of Rammstein but there was nothing watered down about that performance. The lead singer Alexx was great at agitating and interacting with the crowd. It didn’t take long before everyone was dancing, waving their hands and singing along in to the German lyrics. The venue was packed and everyone including the band members seem to be enjoying themselves. Alexx explained that this was actually their first time in Finland and that they regret not having the time to learn any Finnish words before the show.

They played a lot tracks from the latest album including the title track ‘Schock’, ‘1000 Narben’, ‘Volle Karft Voraus’ along with some older material such as ‘Willkommen Im Nichts’, ‘Heilig’, ‘Leider’, ‘Ohne Dich’, This is Deutsch’, ‘Verrückt’ and my personal favourite ‘Vergissmeinnicht’. 5/5

I’m so glad that I decided to go. Danke schön Eisbrecher! I hope that we will meet again soon.

Iza Raittila

 

Six Gun Saints – Ashes [EP]

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 24th January 2015 by mickbirchy

Six Gun Saints
“Ashes” (EP)
Hard Rock
Released 14 October 2011
Via Dead Island Records

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Six Gun Saints, are a hard rock quartet hailing from Concord, CA.  Their debut EP “Ashes” is influenced by so many sources, yet it comes off a just standard metal.  Described to me as follows “Their EP ‘Ashes’ was shaped by drawing from various musical influences of each band member, forming their unique sound”, yes it’s quite cliché and I feel like I’ve heard this sound somewhere before.  Don’t mistake that as bad; it’s just being advertised incorrectly.

The EP itself is a fun heavy metal romp and feels like a Bullet For My Valentine/Avenged Sevenfold-esk type sound.  The riffs are well structured and easy to listen to, this isn’t something that’s going to challenge you as a listener but it’s good all the same.  The track “Spotlight” opens with a gorgeous bit of very atmospheric music and kicks right back into the same vibe.  The reason I point this out is that, for only the second track on their first EP this is really well composed and feels really nice.  The twin guitar is pretty pretty cool too and complements the overall sound nicely with the bass and drums creating a great framework for the band to shine.

The production quality varies throughout and some points are really night and they hit just mark that’s needed, but other moments it feels really disjointed and and the timing feels weird too. The riffs are always nicely structured and when it comes to transitioning between chorus and verse it just feels like they stopped playing for a little while then started again and someone just mixed it badly.  I can imagine these songs sound a great deal better live, or hell, this might even just be their style.  I don’t know, the disadvantage of reviewing a debut is you don’t know what you can and can’t criticise, as it could just be the way I listen to music.  For some parts to sound so good and then the other parts are sloppy, it just sounds disjointed in my head.

Overall, this is a good EP.  I couldn’t say it’s any more than good.  Six Gun Saints show a lot of promise and I do genuinely look forward to more from them, they could be the next big rock band they have all the necessary skills, they just need a little tighter production and more focus and they could be set.

3/5

Mick Birchall

Through The Cracks introduce complete line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 29th August 2014 by Pieni

When we interviewed Jimmy Bergman last month, he mentioned how he and Tillie Grundel were thinking about turning Through The Cracks into a full band rather than a duo. And indeed, a week ago or so, three other names showed up on their Facebook page. Now we have an official photo to go along with those names:

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From left to right: Jimmy, Emmy, Tillie, Daniel, Niklas

Niklas Aggemyr, who was already helping with the production of the new songs, has now taken the bass duties as well. With Daniel Holmgren on drums and Emmy Åsblom on the keyboards and backing vocals, the line-up is complete.

 photo jbttc_zps6a58557f.jpgWith Through The Cracks growing, some fans wondered if Jimmy was leaving his other band The End Of Grace. So the guitarist issued the following statement: “Many people ask me if I’ve stopped playing in The End Of Grace just because I’m now playing with Through The Cracks. So I’m writing this just to put an end to the rumor! I’m still playing with The End Of Grace, we are currently working on our next album, and it will be awesome! I/we are working at the same time very hard on my new band Through The Cracks and will shortly release an EP, which is also awesome! So give both bands a like!! The End Of Grace & Through The Cracks.

The debut single of Through The Cracks, “Breathless”, is available on iTunes and Spotify.


Through The Cracks official Facebook

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