ALBUM REVIEW:  Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full

Roadburn Festival, largely due to the impetus of its main organiser and curator Walter Hoeijmakers, has often acted as a hub for all manner of interesting collaborations between artists who sit in the arty or experimental corners of the heavy music world. May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones) the new collaboration album from Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, is the latest creation which owes a debt to the festival, conceived as it was in the wake of the two artists’ joint set at 2019’s Roadburn. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Armored Saint – Punching The Sky

 

Showing no visible signs of wear and tear, classic Los Angeles metallers Armored Saint return with eighth studio album Punching the Sky (Metal Blade). Noted for their consistency in both output and personnel, you have to go all the way back to 1987’s Raising Fear (Chrysalis) to find a studio album with a different line-up. A surprising level of stability considering two lengthy hiatuses and the untimely death of original guitarist Dave Prichard.

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CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Linkin Park – 20 Years of “Hybrid Theory”

The year 2000 is very memorable for many things, exceptionally in music. As pop dominated the airwaves with releases such as, N*Sync’s No Strings Attached, and Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again, an album that was forced by the media into the new category nu-metal was about to become historic.  Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Pallbearer – Forgotten Days

When listening to Forgotten Days (Nuclear Blast), Pallbearer’s fourth full-length, it’s hard to remember a time when they were ever this riff-driven. The title track sets an immediate precedent with its beginning feedback transitioning into pummeling yet catchy verses, a surprisingly hooky chorus, and a softer bridge that manages to keep the momentum going. ‘The Quicksand Of Existing’ and ‘Vengeance Ruination’ serve up even more heaviness in the album’s second half with the former’s straightforward chugs standing out. Considering past jabs I’ve made about Pallbearer being one of the most riff-adverse groups in Doom Metal, it’s a very refreshing change of pace.

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REVIEW: Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1

Devin Townsend is a music extraordinaire who is well-known for his many different and successful projects that he has participated in over the last 25 years or so. Whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project the man has always thrown his heart into it. He is a Canadian machine that expertly and consistently generates epic-scale music in many diverse forms. Last year he released his latest solo album, Empath (InsideOut Music). He took his essence to a new level of eccentricity with a masterful embodiment of bonkers meets serene. Many cling to the wilds that is Dev for his honest presentation, whether that be in Jazz, Metal, or whatever genre he chooses to express himself with. His devotees gather in the masses at his shows for a guaranteed excellent and entertaining performance. Last December he brought his uncommon magic to England and much like his actual works, the presentation was a little unconventional. Dev is about to release his new live album, Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 (InsideOut Music) documenting that European tour. It will be released as a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-Ray/DVD artbook package, a limited 2CD+DVD digipak, gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box set, and more. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Spirit Adrift – Enlightened In Eternity

Spirit Adrift could’ve followed the more accessible bent of 2019’s Divided In Darkness with more of the same but chose to mix things up to an even greater degree with their fourth full-length album. The tug o’ war between Doom and Traditional Metal that has defined their style has turned in the latter’s favor with more songs taking on upbeat tempos. The lyrics have also undergone a noticeable attitude adjustment with a decidedly optimistic outlook and an emphasis on metaphysical galactic imagery. There are enough common denominators to help Enlightened In Eternity (20 Buck Spin/Century Media) fit in with their established trajectory, but it may be their most drastic sound shift thus far.

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LIVESTREAM REVIEW: Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown – “Pressure”

Nashville-based rockers Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown dropped their highly anticipated album  Pressure on Friday, October 16th  to rave reviews.  Usually, a band who are constantly on the road, the group played their ONLY show of 2020 and crafted a special virtual live stream to celebrate the record release. The invigorating set was sprinkled with songs from across the TBSD catalog, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and backstories on a handful of Pressure tracks. The chatbox during the performance was populated by grateful fans from every corner of the globe, showing the impact of the band worldwide as well as how much live music has been missed these past several months. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Mr. Bison – Seaward

Those who deserted Pisa-based riff kings, Mr. Bison, after their 2012 debut album We’ll Be Brief (Dracma Records) will recognise neither the physical nor the sonic entity that exists today. Only guitarist/vocalist Matteo Barsacchi remains from that initial incarnation, now replenished by two more Matteos – vocalist/guitarist Sciocchetto and drummer D’Ignazi – and the dry, ZZTop-influenced sound of that first effort has been gradually replaced by an oft euphoric leaning towards a form of Desert Psychedelia as progressive as it is retrospective. Their fourth album Seaward (Subsound Records / Ripple Music) is the band’s biggest step forward yet, displaying a level of invention and confidence that is both profound and joyous. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Angband – IV

Formed in 2004 and based in Tehran, Angband plays a style of Power Metal in the vein of American groups like Iced Earth and Jag Panzer rounded out with elements of Prog and Persian traditional music. Their fourth full-length album, aptly titled IV (Pure Steel Records), is their first to come out since 2012’s Saved From The Truth as well as the first to feature Tim Aymar of Control Denied/Pharaoh fame on lead vocals. The prospects are exciting, but the actual execution ends up being a rather mixed bag.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown – Pressure

As last year wound down, 2020 was looking bright for music, with tours galore and a litany of reunions. Nashville’s rock ‘n rollers Tyler  Bryant and the Shakedown were looking forward to building on their busy 2019, which included tours and festivals across the US and Europe, most notably with Stone Temple Pilots, Rival Sons, Clutch, Sevendust, Blackstone Cherry, and Airbourne, among others, and the release of their critically-acclaimed album, Truth and Lies. But as 2020’s landscape changed, big plans did too. Some artists went on hiatus, while others decided to take the time to reflect and write. In this case, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Bryant, drummer Caleb Crosby, and guitarist  Graham Whitford did not slow down, took on the latter approach, and hunkered down in Bryant’s home studio to craft some of their best work with the help of co-producer/engineer Roger Alan Nichols. Aptly titled Pressure (out October 16th on Snakefarm/Spinefarm Records), the album takes listeners on a journey through the emotional and tumultuous year. Coincidentally, many of the songs began to take shape before Nashville faced a destructive tornado, COVID, and racial justice rallies. However, the release could not have been timed better, as it offers up 13 tracks to headbang and air guitar away the trials and tribulations of the last seven months and beyond. With a multitude of moods and tempos, and a collage of rock, blues, roots, and country stylings, Pressure follows the roller coaster that is 2020 life.  Continue reading