ALBUM REVIEW: Dropdead – Dropdead 2020

Punk music continues to be the most outspoken genre of heavy music in terms of political/social issues. This is no different from the hardcore punk/grindcore outfit known simply as Dropdead. Formed back at the beginning of 1991 and has released many recordings over the years, this is only the third studio album, however, it has come about in perfect timing. Simply titled Dropdead 2020 (Armageddon), is a twenty-four-minute sonic attack on all things evil such as the ever-growing right-wing extremists, animal abuse, and overall human stupidity.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Enslaved – Utgard – Nuclear Blast Records 

Viking Metal started out by combining the epic energy of Black Metal with the mystical grace of Folk music. Enslaved is a band at the pinnacle of this heavy, Nordic sound. Starting out as teenagers, this Norweigian act has successively enhanced the Scandinavian metal scene for nearly thirty years. Their beginnings were more in the realm of the extreme, but over time Enslaved has not been afraid to dip into other genres like Prog Rock and Jazz. It’s encouraging to witness their ability to be undaunted by their explorations while still being true to their Viking roots. Their new fifteenth full-length album, Utgard (Nuclear Blast) verifies their astute ambition of experimentmentation and expression. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

Whether you know him from his decade-long rap career, role as Felix in Birdbox, spot-on portrayal of Tommy Lee in The Dirt,  comedian Pete Davidson’s BFF, or Megan Fox’s new beau, Machine Gun Kelly, born Colson Baker, has left footprints across the entertainment industry.  Hot off a summer full of home-recorded covers and his first MTV Video Music Award, MGK takes another step in a new direction with his fifth studio album, Tickets to My Downfall (Bad Boy/Interscope), wearing his heart on his sleeve for 13 tracks (and 2 interludes) of pop-punk magic. Most fittingly, the new release was executively produced by Blink 182’s Travis Barker, who Baker first collaborated with last summer on  “I Think I’m Okay,”  along with Brit bud Yungblud.  It’s no surprise the album sounds as if it could have been born during the early-2000’s pop-punk heyday.  Though TTMD  is a change of pace from MGK’s typical style, it does not fully abandon his roots, highlighting a multitude of hip-hop guests and beats, party songs, and pop anthems. In fact, he has consistently cited various rock acts as influences, so it was only a matter of time until he fully submerged himself in the genre.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Ayreon – Transitus

Arjen Lucassen, the mastermind behind Ayreon, has been hard at work again. In this year full of turmoil and unexpected events, he has bestowed upon us a new multi-media project called Transitus (Mascot Label Group). You see, this is not merely an expertly composed progressive rock-opera with a cast of famous and talented performers. No, this time, we have a visual! Illustrated by Felix Vega, the 25-page comic complements the music and lyrics of the double album and gives the characters more personality. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Devildriver – Dealing With Demons I

The first part of a double release (the second half due next year), the latest offering from prolific Californian melodic death metallers DevilDriver finds the band in cathartic form, as each song on the band’s ninth album, Dealing With Demons I (Napalm Records) focuses on a different type of obstacle or demon to be faced and overcome.

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ALBUM REVIEW:  Various Artists – Dirt Redux

Alice in Chains, when spoken out loud, is understood by all in earshot. Love them or not, every person who says they enjoy rock music in some format knows who they are. One of their finest works was the 1992 classic, Dirt (Columbia Records), which spawned five radio hits, peaked at number six on the Billboard charts, and has sold over five million copies worldwide. Now, twenty-eight years later, the next generation of rock stars have paid tribute to a timeless classic by each taking on a track to cover however they want; thus, was born, Dirt Redux (Magnetic Eye Records). 

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EP REVIEW: Four Stroke Baron – Monoqueen

When I first heard Four Stroke Baron, I had no idea they were going to be one of my favorite finds of the year. “What kind of a name is that?” I thought, bracing for the worst. Man, was I floored by what I found. A pummeling barrage of progressive metal with crushing riffs and a blazing 1980’s synth crescendos that just don’t quit, yet really lit my fire was the vocals. Bucking the metal cliche of trying to come off as heavy and bröötal as possible, vocalist Kirk Witt delivers powerful lyrics in a meek and almost anxious style that puts you on edge and adds a sense of forlorn urgency to many of the tracks.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Crystal Spiders – Molt

Having been acquainted with vocalist Brenna Leath through her work with Lightning Born, her new project Crystal Spiders has a comparable grittier approach to Stoner Doom. Their first album, Molt (Ripple Music), is primarily driven by bass-heavy fuzz with songs that range from Psychedelic excursions to borderline Punk numbers. The style is most comparable to Year Of The Cobra, especially with the bass-drum duo setup, but the darker aspects also trigger associations with Windhand and Ruby The Hatchet. Continue reading