Eleven albums deep and showing no signs of slowing down, alternative metal tour de force Skillet enter their twenty-sixth year of existence with Dominion (WMG / Atlantic), a collection of big rocking tunes, expertly polished and produced, which continues in their now trademark vein. We get the arena stompers, the WWE PPV-ready (or premium live event as they seem to now be known as) montage accompaniers, the saccharine reflective synth and strings ballad, and the chirpy up-tempo deeper cuts.
While it may be OK to not be OK, as the main refrain of the thumping anthemic opener ‘Enlightenment?’ insists (and while it absolutely is, we still have much work to do as a collective mass to support each other), Sleeps Society (Sleeps Brothers, in assoc. with Search & Destroy, Spinefarm, UNFD, Universal) takes a step and seeks to provide a place, a community packed with a kinship of like-minded souls who will be there with and for each other. It would be easy for the Sleeps Society (a Patreon-based family) to be empty words and hollow platitudes, but there is integrity to the missives that are as important to the overall point of While She Sleeps in 2021 as the songs. Continue reading →
Please indulge me for one moment. I am not usually one for breaking the fourth wall when reviewing an album but bear with…. Back in 2004, I had a polar response to two albums in a way that encapsulates a particular dichotomy that fans (and bands) often find themselves caught up in that has stuck with me as a point of reflection ever since. To change, or not to change, that is the question… I remember the unshakeable feeling of disappointment at just how much Slipknot had changed their sound and attack on Vol III: The Subliminal Verses compared to Iowa (both Roadrunner), and the same deep sigh of discontent that Soil hadn’t changed enough (or at all, with Redefine, J Records).Continue reading →
At its molten heart, Rock music should be a very simple beating beast indeed. It should inspire and excite, yes, but it doesn’t need complicated rhythms, progressive tendencies, cerebral lyrics, analysis, politics or a whole plethora of interesting and additional ingredients to be successful or do what it sets out to do. And that is to, unequivocally, “Rock”.Continue reading →
In the shadow of such arena stomping colossi as Creed and Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti’s solo venture has, in your scribe’s opinion up until now, felt lacking. Never being outright bad and often capable of huge songs (as you can expect from the driving force behind the two former), the previous Tremonti albums have not hit levels of adventurous writing that Alter Bridge, in particular, have been capable of, and at worst have felt fairly plodding and generic. Proving that fans of any of his works should never write him off, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that A Dying Machine (Napalm) is a step up for the Tremonti band in virtually every fashion.Continue reading →
Riding the crest of the wave of positivity that 2015’s self-titled album (earMUSIC) garnered, Def Leppard’s subsequent tour was equally well received. To celebrate and mark the occasion And There Will Be A Next Time (Eagle Rock Entertainment) was conceived – a double CD live album accompanied by a DVD of the same performance.Continue reading →
If you like proper hard rock with a metallic edge, California trio Kyng might be just the band for you. Their third album, Breath in the Water (Razor & Tie), is a heavy but well-polished affair that will leave the fans of Alter Bridge, Godsized, or even Ape Machine more than satisfied. It’s not much of a stretch to say it’s better than the new AB album.Continue reading →
Adelitas Wayhas always been an above average band. Solid albums, big shows, and a few high-profile hits (WWE/NFL/TV shows) to build houses on and get some occasional bottle service at the club now and then. Live is where the band has thrived, playing big tours and festivals, often upstaging their peers. They have always had the big hooks and catchy songs, no problem. I had always felt what was holding the band back from being truly great was that their albums didn’t sound “live enough”. The best rock albums have a loose feel with big sounding driving tunes. Adelitas Way may finally have hit this 1-2 combo correctly with their new album Getaway (The Vegas Syn/The Fuel Music).
From the sway of the of lead single ‘Bad Reputation’, there is a breezy quality along with the bad boy brooding that you can feel. Always a band to bring monster chorus parts, Getaway has plenty of ear-worm moments. But what it does best musically is sizzle like bacon in bridges and pre-chorus parts that builds the tension. The title track is badass little declaration. Singer Rick DeJesus could basically sing the phone book and it would rule, but seems out to prove something on this one. ‘The Good Die Young’ is one of their best songs to date. A hard rock anthem that is powerful, bluesy, and deep all at once. ‘Low’ has as another good groove and a hummable melody made for summer time.
‘Put You In Place’ has a great bunch of riffs. Robert Zakaryan doesn’t get mentioned often enough with the big name riffers, but this guy has the chops. ‘Filthy Heart’ is another rager. It’s been out for about year since it was the best track on the Deserve This EP, along with a few other tunes that popped up on this album too.
Some tracks go a bit flat-out alt rock on us, but it’s a fine line for the band who sometimes would rather jangle more than crush, guitar-wise. Overall Getaway is the most satisfying album the band has made. Props to the band for their perseverance with the material and Johnny K for working that magic on the tracks.
Super groups, as we have discussed in this space many times are a) sprouting up everywhere, and b) are a risky proposition for the bands and fans. Saint Asonia has all the makings of a “big deal” new band in an age of shrinking headline acts. With Adam Gontier, formerly of Three Days Grace and Mike Mushok of Staind, the collective radio hits and platinum records sold between just the two of them, that is impressive for any era, but especially this one. Added to the mix are Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven) and bassist Corey Lowery (Eye Empire, Stuck Mojo, Stereomud), and you have enough talent and power to create an impressive beast of a band. On Saint Asonia (RCA) the band has certainly made a good first impression. Let’s see if they answered the hype bell, or not.
First single ‘Better Place’ has been everywhere this summer and rightfully so, since it rocks. It’s great to hear Gontier’s voice wailing again. Especially with the full use of his dynamic vocal range, his thoughtful lyrics hit you hard. The song also features a terrific shreddy and soulful guitar solo from Mushok, which is cool, since he did almost none of that with Staind. Best of all this track is heavy and catchy, which is definitely the secret sauce for this band. Second track ‘Blow Me Wide Open’ is a strong, sensual track that is rough enough to please. These two songs are indicative of confident modern album rock writing at its finest. Third track ‘Let Me Live My Life’ might be the best track on the entire album. With an ear-worm for a chorus so hummable, the marketing boys ought to hashtag that title!
Where Saint Asonia has all of the members former bands’ beat is in the heavy rock department, some of the ballads prove to be a possible Achilles heel. ‘Even Though I Say’ is fairly solid, but it’s not special. ‘Fairytale’ roars back in next, wakes you up and cements the fact that this groups’ best musical moments are when they just scream out and let it fly.
The second half of the album has more arena-ready ragers such as ‘King of Nothing’ and ‘Happy Tragedy’. Rich Beddoe’s drumming stands out a lot on these songs, providing some fierce beats when needed to match the riffage. ‘Dying Slowly’, ‘Trying to Catch Up’ and the folksy ‘Leaving Minnesota’ have might some legs at radio, but also could be stronger. It’s hard not to imagine the many hits Mushok has had a hand in crafting and Gontier’s ability to deliver a penetrating impassioned verse, you wish there was a little bit more of that on here. Still, credit goes to both for not regurgitating old sounds either. The potential is definitely all there in this band to be enormous.
Despite their lineage, Saint Asonia has much more in common with Alice In Chains and Sevendust in terms of melody, grooves, and bringing the feels. Get used to seeing them at a lot of festivals in the coming years.
Muse didn’t become one of the biggest bands in the world by accident. They put in years cultivating their style of smart arena rock, dreamy synthy pop cadences with a super intellectual, cynical bent. Usually once you become to successful, your art starts to suffer. Muse proves on Drones (Warner Bros.) that they have entered their second decade as a band as hungry as ever.
In typical fashion, the lead track and bona-fide hit single ‘Dead Inside’ is the album’s catchiest ear-worm, yet is highly subversive. I giggle to myself thinking of teenagers bumping this song on the way to school, parents unaware of the lyrical nature of the track. The slick pop rock of the tune aside, you can tell a well written song when you hear one, with clever key changes and great singing from Matthew Bellamy. He shines throughout Drones.
‘Drill Sargeant’ gives way to ‘Psycho’ which could give Marilyn Manson a run for his mascara in the goth-rock swing he perfected so well; right down to Christopher Wolstenholme’s distorted bass rumble. One thing that Muse has done well historically is to infuse their dystopic visions of the future with slivers of hopefulness. ‘Mercy’ is a rousing anthem of pain and possibility. Initially I was put off by ‘Reapers’ weak opening: kind of a slo-mo guitaring ‘Hot For Teacher’, but without the great drumming. But the full track itself is an ass kicker. Punk beats, big riffs and a great delivery from Bellamy again. To say that ‘Handler’ sounds like it could have easily been written by Trent Reznor 10 years ago, is a high compliment. Another giant, ebullient chorus you will be singing for days. The last third of the album is not quite a strong as its opening however, with tracks such as ‘Defector’ and ‘Revolt’ being a little too ELO sounding, even for a nerd like me. This is the part of the album where producer Mutt Lange flexed his muscles, so hard. ‘The Globalist’ saves the day though. Epic in scope, rain drops falling, lonesome Western-themed whistle, despondent protagonist going through an epic transformation emotionally, and all the musical movements reflecting that change. Amazing! The title-track/finale is a gorgeous display of chorale style singing and heart-string tugging words and solid way to put a bow on another release from modern rock’s royalty.