Archive for the Alternative Category

DC4 – Atomic Highway

Posted in Alternative, CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 22nd October 2018 by mickbirchy

DC4

Atomic Highway

Hard Rock, Classic Rock

Released: 21 September 2018

via Highvol Music

With over 40 releases under their belts combined, it’s really easy to expect a lot from these bonified legends of the industry. DC4 are a supergroup formed by brothers, Jeff, Shawn & Matt Duncan with their brother-in-metal Rowen Robertson, who between them have appeared in such bands as Armored Saint, Odin, Killer Bee & the legendary Dio. So their rock n roll pedigree is far from in question. We know they can do the job. The question is this, are they any good? My answer, in a word, yes. It’s all the great aspects of classic hard rock and none of the fluff. Their new record, Atomic Highway is an enjoyable experience that will get any rocker’s mojo going. If the talent on display didn’t impress you, then know that Bill Metoyer produced and mastered the record. With bands like Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity and the aforementioned Armored Saint under his belt. You can bet the album is going to sound as good as it can possibly be.

This album gives you everything you expect. Powerful riffs, gut-busting solos, commanding vocals and grooves for days. The band sounds so good, with strong songwriting and well-executed performances all around. It’s amazing how this automatically feels like a classic record with those familiar guitar sounds that you could swear you’ve heard before. The band just rides the groovy riffs and then go wild during the solos, whilst still maintaining that great control of the rhythm. No one member feels more important than the other, everyone plays their part beautifully. Sure, the rock style may be formulaic, but at this point, it’s a tried and tested formula of rock n roll and it guarantees that people keep listening and enjoy the songs. The impressive guitar solos are what sell this record for me. When the guitar is let loose, I can feel goosebumps shiver through my body. The precision and skill, blended with a wonderful rhythm section make the solos pop and really stand out.

Jeff Duncan’s vocal performance is great as well. He has a dynamic singing voice that ranges from powerful with a rough edge, to tender and well toned. When he sings, his voice sores above the production. The music matching the lyrical subjects really well and the squealing guitar contracts well against his vocal style. I really don’t think there is a dull moment of the album. A real shock for me came with their unique cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Reily”. Although it’s not a flawless cover version, this song is a beloved favourite of mine. So anytime I get to hear it, a smile comes to my face. It also comes with cameo appearances from Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Dizzy Reed on the keyboard and John Bush (Anthrax, Armored Saint) on guest vocals. So that was pleasant and made the song more whole then if the band just tried to do it outright.

In all honesty, you get what you pay for with this record. It’s meat and potatoes rock n roll. If you love your classic rock and that old school flair, then this is for you. As a kid who grew up thumbing through his dad’s old albums, this album is right up my alley. It’s familiar and new in all the right ways. It doesn’t beat you over the head with nostalgia. It simply feels like a record right out of the past with newer production. Atomic Highway is a solid album that will please people who love unapologetic rock music. Let me tell you, I’m having a ball listening to this record.

4/5

Mick Birchall

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Soul Desire – Ignite

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 1st August 2018 by mickbirchy

Soul Desire
Ignite
Hard Rock, Alternative Rock
Released 13 July 2018
Self Released



I was quite interested to listen to Soul Desire. Formed this year, and already armed with an exciting and well-executed EP. I can’t say I knew much about their previous band, One Last Run, so I’m not really going to touch that. However, Ignite is the first taste that we’ve got from Becky Jade (Vocals), Rob Leach (Guitar) & Chris Smith (Bass) in this new project and I am thoroughly impressed. The sound is good, the melodies are catchy, the lyrics are well written all leading to a great debut for them.

The album opens with their lead-in single, “Rapture” and it automatically sets the tone for the EP, which is rocking hard and clearly enjoying it. I like the sound of the guitars and the bass which chug away and the riff is a great one to open with. It really feels like that sound that I have been listening to for a long time, with bands like Papa Roach, Skarlett Riot and Firewind. So points there and the same can be said across the EP. It has that really clear and defined tone that just punches you right in the gut. Also, the songs “Dark Light” and “Ignite” were brilliant headbangers as well. From the production standpoint, this album is great to listen to and catches the ear just right.

My only problem with the EP is that it reminds me too much of other bands out there. In all honesty, there’s not much in this genre anymore that you can make original without co-opting other musical influences. Whilst the lead vocalist, Becky Jade, certainly brings her own charm, energy and personality to the music, the overall sound is something I’ve heard a lot of. Not so much a problem with the band it’s more the genre itself. However, they do suffer from it. I would have liked some other musical ideas or just something to put meat on the bare bones. Maybe some backing tracks, electronics or other instrumentation, but that’s just me spitballing.

I will admit it’s a fine EP. It has some very strong production and beautiful lyrics. I particularly liked the ballad “Falling Apart”, it broke up the EP and showed that they’re not just a one trick pony. I would definitely like to hear more from them as they’re very talented musicians. I also would really be interested in hearing them in a live setting. Ultimately I’m giving this EP a thumbs up. If you’re into you alternative hard rock then I would recommend giving them a listen.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

Lumous Gothic Festival 2018

Posted in Alternative, Festival, Industrial, Live, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 15th July 2018 by izaforestspirit

Novus, Auger, Terrolokaust
Dog’s Home and Klubi, Tampere, Finland
13-14th July 2018

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to attend festivals. Lumous Gothic Festival is the biggest Gothic event in Finland and it just happens to take place in the city where I live. I’ve been attending this every year since 2012. The music ranges from Goth rock, darkwave, neo-folk to various forms of industrial and EBM.

Friday

This time I was mostly interested in the Saturday line-up. There was however a free show happening at The Dog’s Home (a pub next door to the main venue). So I went to check it out. I did not know anything about the band except their name – Chaos Research. It turned out to be a mixture of neo-folk, neo-classical, darkwave and ambient. Eerie operatic vocals, electronic with some additional instruments such as an electric cello and drums. Their show produced a relaxed atmosphere in the venue. 3/5

Saturday

The main day of the festival. I was mainly interested in the industrial rock band Terrolokaust but I checked out the rest of the line-up as well. First up was a British electronic duo called Novus. I quite enjoyed their show. It was fun to dance to. So a good start to the night. 3.5/5

I really liked the next band, Auger – darkwave and also from the UK. Their music sounded like a mixture of Blutengel with the Gothic horror atmosphere of The Vision Bleak. Very theatrical performance, powerful vocals, haunting keyboards and good guitar work. Great show! I really want to check out some of their music. 4.5/5

Then it was time for the night’s headliner – the industrial rock band from Cataluña, Terrolokaust. I’ve seen them live once before at Resistanz Festival in 2016, so I pretty much knew what to expect. They played a very energetic show featuring a mixture of old and new material from all their albums. My personal favorites included ‘El Mundo Sigue Girando’, ‘Reasons’ and their cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Spitfire’ which they played as an encore. 5/5


In summary I had a great time. Terrolokaust was my favorite performance of the night. I also made a new discovery in the form of Auger. I really liked their show. Lumous Gothic Festival was pleasure as always. See you next year!

Iza Raittila

 

Sick N Beautiful – Element of Sex

Posted in Alternative, CD, Industrial, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 31st May 2018 by mickbirchy

Sick N Beautiful

Element Of Sex

Shock Rock, Nu Metal, Electronic Metal

Released: 29 June 2018

via Rosary Lane Records

Sick N Beautiful are a shock rock band that took me by surprise. Their new album Element of Sex is absolutely superb. Mixing elements of rock, metal, pop and electronica and combining it with sci-fi themes. In my book this makes it a real winner. They have so much personality and they really use this album to express themselves. For people who may not be well versed in this style of music, it’s meant to be loud, heavy on the distortion and has character driven lyrics. So if you enjoy Lordi or Rob Zombie, you’ll more than likely get into this. I have listened to the album a few times now and I have to say I’m really enjoying the sound. It’s weird enough to be abstractly enjoyable but conventional enough to garner a wide audience. I think it’s a good place for them to sit.

Their music is this great fusion of rock and electronica with a gothic edge. It puts me in mind of German industrial music with its distorted guitars and well put together arrangements. The production is sharp and the unique sounds of the band truly engross you. Their sheer charisma is matched by an intense energy that persists throughout the record. The riffs come thick and fast, they really sound great. With the electronica influences the songs sound other worldly and give the guitars and bass a slightly weirder tone. It’s almost an orchestral vibe, intercut with nu-metal undertones. I have to give a lot of credit to the vocal performance of Herma. She sings the songs with such passion and conviction; every moment of her performance on the album is absolutely captivating.

Their lyrics are fun as well invoking scenes of sex, violence, space and ritual. All cleverly tied together with the use of imagination. They manage to use their lyrics to create scenes in your mind where they can tell their story. They sound like they’re having a lot of fun with the lyric writing and use their imaginations to tell stories and that’s what I like here. There’s never a feeling of being talked down to. You go for the ride with them and I can appreciate musical escapism.

Overall, I have really loved listening to Sick N Beautiful. They’re a strange band but very likeable. Their music is enjoyable and with their use of genre hopping and mixing it really feels like something fresh and new. Even though there’s nothing really different the way they piece it all together feels new and it’s a bit of fresh air in a genre that hasn’t progressed in a while. They make music they clearly enjoy and their not going to let anyone tear them down or make them feel ashamed. It’s a fun album and in my opinion definitely one to pick up.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Escape The Fate – I Am Human

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , on 26th May 2018 by Pieni

Escape The Fate
“I Am Human”
Alternative Rock
Released: 30th March 2018
Via Eleven Seven Music

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Escape The Fate have conquered a few million fans over the past decade with their modern alternative rock. That’s still the best way to describe their sound, although with “I Am Human” it has lost a bit of its original edge. One could say it’s heading towards a more mainstream direction, but let’s face it – they’ve always been down that road. But now there’s a refinement to it, a maturity that gives texture to all the catchiness and class to the briskness. Some of the guitar work has even hints of the eighties, the solos in “I Will Make It Up To You” and “Beautifully Tragic” being the most notorious.

On the other hand, we have more “up-to-date” tunes, such as “Empire”, featuring this decade’s trend of blending the most spirited anger with the most fetching melody. Speaking of melodies, the mandatory ballad comes in the form of “Bleed For Me”. Not exactly extraordinary, but it serves its purpose of touching your heart.

Touching are also the lyrics of “If Only”, contradicting the chirpy acoustic chords provided. The kind of song you associate with Summer camps, even if these usually don’t bear so much regret. “Let Me Be”, however, is lighthearted enough to make you want to dance to its rhythm and sing-along cheerfully.

The title-track is quite seductive, but my personal favorite is “Do You Love Me” – the bass in this album is so overlooked that it’s refreshing to feel its vibrancy in this song.

All in all is a pretty pleasant record. Its new path didn’t take such a dramatic detour – especially when you’re able to recognize the step forward it represents in song-writing – but indeed some of the most hardcore fans of the band may be disappointed. At the sane time, “I Am Human” is prone to gain them a handful of new ones.

3,5/5

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Maxdmyz – Alchemical Metal (EP)

Posted in Alternative, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 17th June 2017 by Paul Macmillan

Maxdmyz
“Alchemical Metal” (EP)
Released April 17th 2017
Electronic/metal
Released via Renegade Records

This swift EP from London’s Maxdmyz is an odd, and mildly confusing one. Hell, I don’t even know for sure how we’re supposed to pronounce their name! Yet it’s the audio which keeps chucking out curveballs.

Swamped in the soundscape of 1990s rock and metal, collective tastes are somewhat obvious. The electronic edge of Obsolete era Fear Factory taken to its club friendly extreme, and the odd power-pop metal of Faith No More’s The Real Thing; the classics of that era are the big player’s in the canon of influences on display. One could also put some credence behind picking out the occasional nod to Alice In Chains, One Minute Silence, Rage Against The Machine, or even early nu-metal such as Hed(pe) or System Of Down.

There is plenty play on more current trends, though, albeit far more subtle in application. It does take a bit to push the overarching style to one side to filter them out, and then another shove to allow your head the space to blend everything back into one again. It’s no wonder they opted for the title of Alchemical Metal, as this pulls on predecessors from all throughout the metal and rock kingdom. From flecks of melo-death to stoned-out sludge, old-school to futuristic, the sonic melange is openly bizarre.

Not for the first time in reviews, I have to say, this should, in theory, have ended up a bit of a mess of mismatched tropes and idioms, but has managed to come together as one solid sound. Hopefully, the prevalence of this type of free-roaming artistic success story is a sign of things to come. Slightly disjointed at times, if you really look for it, but delivered with passion and talent, accessible, yet powerful and genuinely musical.

Paul Macmillan

3.5/5

Projecto Sem Nome – Bulas Para Dedos E Coração

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd April 2017 by Pieni

Projecto Sem Nome
“Bulas Para Dedos E Coração”
alternative rock
Released: 8th October 2016
Via Raising Legends Records

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Projecto Sem Nome is Portuguese for “nameless project”, and while some of you may see it as a tacky lack of imagination, I think it’s quite ingenious and liberating – “nameless” but it’s still the name they go by, so it’s a clever pun, and at the same time, having such an empty meaning, it’s up to you to give it one. Just like with their lyrical content, which is so full of metaphors that even if Portuguese is your mother tongue, you’ll be left wondering about what singer/lyricist Cristovão Siano really means with those words.

Musically, it’s not so hard to label them as “alternative rock” is probably the most comprehensive and vague genre ever. “Até Amanhã” (see you tomorrow), for instance, is a rough post-grunge piece seasoned with delicate acoustic guitar fragments. “Detalhes” (details) has a more upbeat and catchy main riff but eventually sounds somewhat heavier, and then the guitar solo is pretty dire, as if out of one of those eighties hard rock hits. The ballad “Identidade XXX” (identity XXX) features a xylophone and an intense vocalization, while “Havia Lá” (there was) is probably the fiercest track, a double bass drum backing up Cristóvão’s high-pitch lament towards the end. And the duet with Blame ZeusSandra in “Marcha Gole” (sip march) gives the song an extra refinement.

Is therefore safe to say that “Bulas Para Dedos E Coração” (leaflets for fingers and heart) offers a batch of rock songs written and performed on a basis of a myriad of styles and influences. One word: classy.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino