Blessthefall – To Those Left Behind

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Metalcore is one of the most popular alternative music genres nowadays, with thousands upon thousands of bands attempting to sound ‘edgy’. It is easy to get sick of the genre really quickly, but there is occasionally a new album which comes out and proves that the genre is still going strong. That album would be To Those Left Behind (Fearless) by Blessthefall. Seriously.

Opening track ‘Decayer’ is powerful, brutal and energetic from the get-go. Although Blessthefall’s previous albums were enjoyable to listen to, there is something different about ‘To Those Left Behind’: it is easy to hear how much their sound has progressed in just a short space of time. Their sound is not only heavier, but it also sounds much more passionate.

‘Up In Flames’ was the first single to be released from the new album and it still remains one of the most exciting songs. The fusion of melodic vocals, harsh screams and heavy riffs stays true to the original Blessthefall style whilst still managing to sound fresh.  Frontman Beau Bokan has stated that they do not want to be classed as a Christian metal band, but their lyrics could be seen to be of a religious theme: “Don’t drag me through your nightmare; don’t tear apart what I am. You’ve got your demons, they parallel mine. You’re not the victim, you’re my parasite.”

When a band releases a new album it is easy to say that it is either their best or worst album to date, however, Blessthefall have truly created an album to be proud of. The harsh vocals are some of the best that they have ever done and it is safe to say that Blessthefall are at the top of their game right now.

 

7.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Atreyu – Long Live

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If you were into any form of alternative music during the early 2000s, there is a high chance that Atreyu were a part of your adolescence. Whether it was rocking out to their infamous Bon Jovi cover, putting ‘Bleeding Mascara’ lyrics in your MSN name or listening to ‘The Theft’ when you were feeling blue, it’s true to say that the metalcore quintet hold a special place in many former-emo kids’ hearts. Over a year after they announced their return, Atreyu are back with Long Live (Spinefarm), an incredible fourteen track comeback album.

From the first track alone it is easy to hear exactly how excited Atreyu are to be back. ‘Long Live’ is full of energy from the get-go due to its fast-paced riffs and hard-hitting vocals. Alex Varkatzas is renowned for his unique vocal style and it is fantastic to hear that he has not strayed too far from his previous material. Despite sticking to their roots, Atreyu have been able to kick up the pace and create an album which will appeal to both old and new fans.

One of the best parts of this album is the guitar work. The guitar solo in ‘Live To Labor’ is particularly mosh-worthy, as well as the opening riff for ‘Heartbeats And Flatlines’. It is often hard for bands to convey their energy and enthusiasm through recorded music, however, Atreyu have managed to create music which is almost impossible to sit still for.

Long Live takes a darker turn for the forth track ‘Cut Off The Head’. The sinister-sounding opening merges well with Alex’s heavy vocals and it would not sound out of place in a horror movie. Despite being one of Atreyu’s heavier songs, the chorus is melodic and extremely catchy.

‘Brass Balls’ is a definite contender for the best song on the album due to its aggressive and dynamic nature and it is hard to ignore the rage-filled lyrics: “Lay yourself down on the tracks, be crucified by your own words. You’re no cross-bearer, you’re not a fucking martyr.” Atreyu are not afraid to speak their mind, and that is one of the main reasons that they have such a huge fanbase.

More often than when bands release comeback albums, it is apparent that they only care about the money or fifteen more minutes of fame. However, Atreyu have taken their time to carefully craft each song and to create an album which is as good as their previous material, if not better.

Welcome back Atreyu, you have been sorely missed.

 

9.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Carousel – 2113

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People often complain about how rock music isn’t the same as it used to be in the “good old days”, with the term ‘rock’ now often being used to describe any song which has a slightly edgy riff. Due to this, it can be hard for classic rock fans to discover new music that appeals to their tastes. If you are someone who enjoys listening to old-style rock and roll without any of the frills or gimmicks, then you should be getting excited about the release of 2113 (TeePee) by Pittsburgh-based quartet Carousel.

It is almost impossible to write a rock album review without mentioning the guitar riffs at some point, however, Carousel are able to prove from the first track alone that they have completely nailed the technical guitar aspect. ‘Trouble’ is full of infectious riffs and melodies that are able to stick to the typical classic rock theme whilst still sounding fresh.

In ‘Jim’s Song’ Dave Wheeler and co. seem to express their own opinions on the current music scene: “Don’t want to hear another song about a broken dream”. The lyrical content throughout the entire album is both interesting and unique, making the listener want to hear more about what is going on in the minds of Carousel.

It is hard to compare Dave’s vocals to anyone else’s, however, Carousel’s music as a whole seems to have obvious influences from bands such as Heaven’s Basement, Black Star Riders and even Black Stone Cherry.

If you like old-school riffs fused with lots of cowbell and effect pedals then Carousel are definitely the band for you. Although they may not appeal to everyone there is no denying that their music is both tight and well-written.

 

7.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Hiraeth – The World Ends With You

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You can find out a lot about a band simply from their name. Take Hiraeth for example: Hiraeth is a Welsh word which has no direct English translation. The University of Wales has described it as ‘homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the departed’, as well as a mixture of ‘longing, yearning and nostalgia’. With such a unique and interesting band name, it is clear from the beginning that there is something different about them. Their debut EP The World Ends With You is self-released, and they have recently finished their first UK tour with Black Polaris and wars.

Opening track ‘Words To Echo’ opens with a simplistic and distorted guitar riff, proving their melodic hardcore roots instantly. Lead vocalist Charlie Clayton demands your attention from the get go, using his harsh vocals to enhance the emotion-filled lyrics. ‘Barely Breathing’ kicks up the pace, proving that Hiraeth are not just a one trick pony. The song features William Alex Young from Clockwork, and their different vocal styles fuse together perfectly.

There is something almost reminiscent about Hiraeth: they are able to use all of the previously successful melodic hardcore techniques to a high standard. The World Ends With You is an easy EP to listen to, and if you like melodic hardcore then there is no reason why you would not enjoy this band. For a first EP it is impressive, however, it would be great to hear how their sound develops in time and find out what will make them stand out from the thousands of other bands on the UK underground scene at the moment.

 

7.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Archaea – Catalyst

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When new bands form they usually aim to get their music ‘out there’ as soon as possible, often releasing their début full-length album in the first couple of years. However, Archaea do not adhere to this stereotype as they are finally releasing their début album nearly eight years after forming. Although this may seem like a strange move, it does prove that a lot of thought, effort and time has gone into the creation of Catalyst (Self-release).

One of the most impressive songs on the album is ‘Vacuum’, a dramatic and almost enchanting melodic metal song. The frantic nature of the song is highlighted by the fast-paced keyboard melodies, which manage to fuse well with Nils Bossius’ powerful vocals. There is definitely a theatrical element to this song, however, it does not sound tacky or over-rehearsed.

There are many stereotypes about Swedish melodic death metal all sounding the same, but that definitely is not true. Although Archaea are able to nail all of the genre tick-lists (heavy vocals, melodic keyboard, ect), there is something a bit different about the Gothenburg-based sextet. Every song on the album sounds unique and it is hard to get bored whilst listening to it. Although there may be a slight overload of keyboard melodies, which is slightly reminiscent of Children Of Bodom, it does not change the professionalism of Archaea’s sound.

If you gave this album to someone who was scared of the melodic metal genre it would definitely encourage them to listen to more ‘melodeath’ music. Catalyst is extremely easy to listen to as Archaea have made an album which focuses on creating high-quality music with hints of other genres embedded into their sound. Although it may not be the most ground-breaking record of the genre, Archaea have worked hard to create a release is sure to gain them respect in the metal community and a wide variety of new fans.

 

7.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Black Space Riders – Refugeeum

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When a band describes themselves as a ‘New Wave of Heavy Psychedelic Spacerock’, it really is hard not to be intrigued. Cue Black Space Riders, a five-piece band from ‘Space’ (well, actually Muenster in Germany, but I guess ‘Space’ sounds cooler). The psychedelic band formed in 2008, and Refugeeum (self-released/Cargo) is their fourth album.

Opening track ‘Vortex Sun’ is a fusion of progressive and psychedelic music, sounding unlike anything else in the music scene at the moment. Their unique style may seem strange, however, there is no deny that BSR are extremely talented. You may think that they would appeal to a rather niche audience, however, their music has been well-received by fans and critics alike.

It is hard to compare Black Space Riders to any other band in the music scene at the moment, however, it is clear that they are influenced by bands such as Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, mainly due to the heavy yet mind-blowing riffs. It is almost as though they took a space-like/psychedelic twist on the classic metal genre.

It is easy to instantly dismiss music that sounds completely different from anything that you would usually listen to; however, if you enjoy unique and powerful music, then Black Space Riders may be your new favourite band. There is almost a stoner metal/doom element to their sound, which could easily appeal to fans across the progressive metal genre. Although their persona may seem strange or even tacky, Refugeeum is testament that you should not judge a band by their appearance: you may regret it.

 

8.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Fell To Low – Low In The Dust

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Post-hardcore is a genre which has thrived in recent years, which is due to a vast number of reasons. One of these is the so-called ‘Tumblr’ bands, such as La Dispute and Defeater, whose music seems to appeal to teenagers and those in their early twenties, while one of the most popular features of the genre is the meaningful and deep lyrics which people can relate to. Another band which is sure to prove a hit with the younger generation is Fell To Low, a California-based quintet with their latest release Low In The Dust (Revelation).

It is easy to hear from the first song alone, ‘Galore’, that there is something different about Fell To Low: the haunting guitar riffs and deep lyrical content gives the album an almost eerie feel. It is pretty much impossible to listen to the music without feeling somewhat attached to it, subconsciously or not. Fell To Low manage to grab your attention for the entire forty eight minutes of the record, and the end gives you an almost cathartic-like feeling.

Another stand-out track is ‘Boundary’, which opens with a slower yet beautiful guitar riff. The song soon descends into an almost chaotic structure, which is emphasised by Travis Farmer’s hard-hitting and frantic vocal style. The pace continually changes throughout the nine minute song, which allows the listener to stay focussed and interested.

Fell To Low have managed to create an impressive album which will appeal to fans across the post-hardcore and punk genres. Their emotional yet chaotic musical style allows the listener to fully engage with it, which is a quality that many bands are unable to achieve.

 

8.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Eva Plays Dead – Sounds of the Written Word EP

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People often complain about the lack of female musicians in the rock and metal music scene, and it is easy to see why. Despite this, many of the new and upcoming rock bands are female fronted, such as Marmozets, New Year’s Day and Butcher Babies. Another addition to this expanding list is Eva Plays Dead, a Midlands-based quartet. Describing themselves as “no-nonsense rock with attitude”, their infectious melodies and energetic live performances have been winning over crowds across the country. Their new EP is called Sounds of the Written World (SoundHub) and it is sure to increase their ever-growing fan base.

Opening track ‘Live Again’ begins with a fast-paced and furious riff, which merges perfectly with Tiggy Dee’s hard-hitting vocals. The energy and pure passion hits you from the first second of the song, giving you the perfect insight into what Eva Plays Dead are about; citing bands such as The Dirty Youth and LostAlone as their main influences, this is easily apparent in their own music. The catchy choruses and harsh riffs are almost infectious and make them a welcome addition to the rock music scene.

One of the best things about Eva Plays Dead is their attitude towards their music; unlike many bands in the music industry, they do not have to rely on gimmicks or conformity. Their music speaks for itself, and it is easy to see exactly why people are so excited for Sounds of the Written Word – it is definitely worth the wait!

 

8.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Potergeist – Crocodile Tears

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Bands seem to be randomly making up sub-genres to make themselves stand out from the crowd, and Potergeist are no exception to the rule. Describing themselves as “swamp metal”, the Athens-based quintet are back with their fourth full-length record, Crocodile Tears (Garden of Dreams). They have not always been so into crocodiles though: they began as a southern metal band in 2004, formed in the vein of Kylesa and Down.

Despite the crocodile-themed song names, it is hard to understand what exactly ‘swamp metal’ is, or what it is supposed to be. If you played this album to anyone without telling them who the band was, they would simply say that it is metal music. Impressive metal music, yes, but it is difficult to understand what makes Potergeist attempt to create a subgenre. Whether the crocodile theme is a gimmick or a unique selling point it is unclear, however, that does not detract anything from the actual music.

One of the easiest ways to describe Potergeist would be like Black Stone Cherry, but heavier. Alex S Wamp’s vocals are of a similar style to Chris Robertson’s, which makes the band sound closer to their southern metal origin. Opening track Crocodile Tears makes an instant impact on the listener: the heavy riffs and hard-hitting vocals are of an extremely high standard. It is easy to tell from the first song alone that this is not just another cheesy metal band, but that Potergeist are extremely talented musicians.

Although the themed persona of the band may put off many potential listeners, you should never judge a book by its cover… or a band by their love of crocodiles. If you are looking for a bunch of crazy songs then you are mistaken, but if you enjoy listening to fresh metal or even rock music, then Crocodile Tears is the album for you.

 

7.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Being As An Ocean – Being As An Ocean

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After forming in 2012, Being As An Ocean have quickly built up a reputation of playing intense live shows and creating passionate music. Their latest self-titled album (In Vogue Records/Impericon) further demonstrates their capabilities as a powerful melodic hardcore band, and it is easy to see why they have gained so many fans in such a short space of time.

First track ‘Little Richie’ instantly grabs your attention: the melodic opening leads perfectly into heavy riffs and hard-hitting lyrics. Joel Quartuccio’s vocals are as passionate as ever, allowing the listener to fully engage with the music. The synth-like breakdown may seem like a strange addition, but it actually works really well and proves that Being As An Ocean are not afraid to try something new.

One of the most impressive songs on the album is ‘Saint Peter’, which is a four minute emotional and engaging journey. There is something almost cathartic about this song, which may be due to the fusion of spoken word and harmonic vocals. The lyrics are thoughtful and well-written, which is just one of the reasons why Being As An Ocean’s new album is so successful.

If you are a fan of bands such as Rise Against, Hundredth and Stick To Your Guns, then Being As An Ocean’s new album is definitely for you. Even if you are not a huge fan of melodic hardcore this album may surprise you, especially as every song sounds unique and full of passion. It is hard for bands to convey energy through recorded music, however, Being As An Ocean have managed to do it with ease.

 

8.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO