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.
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.
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.
Considering the lengthy silence between Chrome Waves self-titled EP in 2012 and 2019’s A Grief Observed, it’s great that the group has been so prolific since their comeback. Their second full-length album, Where We Live (Disorder Recordings), picks up where its predecessor left off while featuring its own set of changes. Dustin Boltjes (ex-Skeletonwitch, Sacred Leather) is on drums in place of the tragically passed Bob Fouts, and the eclectic influences behind the band’s melancholic sound are given room to expand even further. Continue reading
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
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.
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).
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.
Consistency is the best word that can be used to describe a band like The Ocean. After releasing the critically acclaimed album Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic (Metal Blade Records/Pelagic Records) in 2018, the Germans come back with can possibly be a solid candidate for album of the year in Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic (Metal Blade Records/Pelagic Records). And it’s just that this band keeps raising the musical and creative bars that are out there. They are not afraid to crush any musical barriers and do love to delve into unknown territories and as a result, they always come out on the winning end of it.
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