The very nature of Simple Plan’s hotly anticipated sixth record, Harder Than It Looks (Self-Released) is actually doubly prophetic. The French-Canadian fourpiece have kept it rather simple indeed since they hit it big with ‘I’d Do Anything’ way back in 2002. Not known as a hugely poetic or introspective lyrical band, the pop punkers instead let the music do the talking in all its springy, bobby greatness. That’s not to say the means by which to achieve this is easy, hence the album title.Continue reading
In the new “post-covid” era I have been hearing some awesome cuts coming from all kinds of artists. It makes me wonder how many took advantage of the downtime to hone skills and really dig into some songwriting.
The UK doom scene continues to pump out solid releases and the latest from Alunah is no different. Strange Machine (Heavy Psych Sounds) kicks right off with the album track and does not let up on the psychedelic rock/doom metal mixture. A lot of fans of the scene tend to just say things like “Oh it’s just more Sabbath worship”, but rest assure, these Birmingham natives are not here to hit copy and paste.Continue reading
When we chatted with Shimon Moore, formerly of Sick Puppies earlier this summer, he talked about fear, but also about freedom. Even though he has sold millions of records and toured all over the world, he was worried about the future of his career. Not whether or not he could deliver new songs as a solo artist, but how his fans would accept him now. Based on his new solo album, SHIM, he had no reason to fear at all. Not only has he brought with him his penchant for infectious hooks and rocking songs, in some ways, going solo has helped him become much more than he ever was before. Continue reading
With Britain once again under the yoke of an unrestrained Tory government and the Cold War seemingly re-activated, it’s beginning to feel like the 80s never ended. Therefore what better time for former Amebix frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller to step back into the limelight with a new band after his legendary crust trio failed to capitalise on their recent comeback record. Joined by comrades in arms Jon Misery and Andrew Lefton on guitars; both seasoned veterans of the US scene and Voïvod drummer Away behind the kit, the quartet have united under the banner Tau Cross, and with their debut self-titled album look set to prove once more that the old guard knows best.
Those expecting a re-run of Arise! (Alternative Tentacles) will be choking on their bottles of White Lightning as the massive chugging riffs and subtle electronica of album opener ‘Lazarus’ announces itself with aplomb. Both verses and choruses are positively radio friendly and were it not for Miller’s customary gritty throat, you could almost be listening to Killing Joke try their hand at stadium rock. Next track ‘Fire in the Sky’ has a somewhat 90s alt rock vibe struggling to emerge from under the guitars and Away’s solid percussion before things speed up considerably on the restless ‘Stonecracker’, which Lemmy would have sold his last bottle of Jack to have penned.
As the album progresses, it becomes more obvious that the band have no interest in trading on former glories and are eager to let these new songs stand on their own two feet. The expertly written flowing riffs and soaring chorus of the likes of ‘Midsummer’, the simple yet deadly stop-start refrains of ‘You People’ and the levelling power of ‘Our Day’ are so well written that the whole thing soon begins to feel like a greatest hits collection. The production is crystal clear; making the songs sound simply massive and the sheer amount of hooks on offer suggests that large festival stages were in mind during the writing process. It’s easy to imagine a whole field at a mainstream music festival raising their hands and voices to the brilliant acoustic driven ‘We Control the Fear’, for example.
The sole misstep is closing track ‘The Devil Knows His Own’; a rather twee folk ballad that allows the album to dwindle out when it should have finished with a bang, but that is a minor issue when the rest of the material on offer here is so strong. Evidently his day job as a swordsmith on the Isle of Skye has given Miller plenty of time to think up some fantastic material, and it’s something we should be incredibly thankful for as Tau Cross (Relapse Records) is one of the most listenable and engaging releases you are likely to hear until the clowns at Number 10 have been sent packing.
At first glance, the idea of combining melodic punk with speed metal seems like a notion dreamed up after eating too much cheese, but the more you think about it, the more it starts to make sense given that both styles of music rely on catchy and powerful melodies to drive forward their songs. That’s exactly what Swedish quintet Atlas Losing Grip realised and has spent the past few years attempting to perfect. And they just may have managed it on third full length Currents (Cargo Records).
Opening track ‘Sinking Ship’ merges crunchy, compressed riffing with a widescreen, emotive chorus that immediately lodges in your frontal lobe. The band’s shining light is undoubtedly new vocalist Niklas Olsson who has stepped fearlessly into the shoes left by the recently departed Rodrigo Alfaro. Olsson’s clear, commanding tones give the likes of the anthemic ‘The Curse’ a truly epic quality that instantly raises the spirits, helped along by some perfectly executed guitar lines and harmonies. The band have an obvious appreciation for So-Cal punk which is demonstrated on the Bad Religion worshipping ‘Cynosure’ which manages to cram in the perfect amount of soaring vocal lines and gritty riffs in under three minutes, while the no holds barred speed metal of ‘Nemesis’ is like Annihilator and A Day to Remember fucking on the deck of the Jolly Roger.
While many bands have used nautical themes before, its use on Currents feels appropriate for while the band are by no means lost at sea, the choppy and unpredictable nature of their music may at first put off newbies. But for those brave enough to take the plunge, there is so much to discover, such as the mature and sombre ballad ‘Closure’ and the classic songwriting of ‘Kings and Fools’ which if penned by Dave Grohl would be a Top Ten hit, no questions asked.
With far much more going on than your average punk or metal album that feels content to just go through the motions, Currents is a joy from start to finish, an album chock full of life-affirming hooks and meticulously written riffs and melodies that, unless you’re a militant punk douche or elitist metalhead tool, is simply impossible to dislike.