ALBUM REVIEW: Jinjer – Macro

Jinjer has got to be right up there when it comes to the busiest bands in all of hard music today. Just examining their 2019 schedule leads me to notice that they kicked things off with the Micro EP, toured Europe, launched their first headlining North American run this Fall and somehow still found studio time to assemble their fourth proper LP Macro (Napalm Records) just in time for another Euro trek. Don’t know how they do it, but nothing but respect for our Ukrainian friends even if our president is a vile pig monster who tried extorting you guys for political gain. Continue reading

REVIEW: (Hed) P.E Live at The Cavalier Theatre, La Crosse Wisconsin

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There are just some bands that a person has to see whenever there is an opportunity, plain and simple. I made the mistake of not going to a concert in 1993, citing that I would see them next time, well, there was no next time. Since that moment in history, I rarely miss the shows of bands that are meaningful to me. One of the bands that I have on my must-see list is (Hed) P.E., I am hoping they are on your list too. My youngest spawn asked me a while ago how many time I have seen (Hed) P.E. and I surprised myself when I counted the shows I had attended. Continue reading

(Hed) P.E. – Stampede

Evolution is inevitable, resisting it is futile. I have witnessed oodles of bands that have resisted letting their music evolve, getting themselves trapped in a murky impenetrable bubble of monotony and dismal record sales. (Hed) P.E. is not one of those bands. If anything, (Hed) P.E. could be the official spokesmodel for bands who embrace the natural evolution of their music. The latest studio album from (Hed) P.E., Stampede (Pavement Entertainment) is a dynamic testament that the band is categorically fearless in their songwriting and continue to transcend any and all musical pre-conceived notions. Continue reading

Sons Of Lazareth – Blue Skies Back To Gray

No, it’s not a quirky mix of Lazarus and Nazareth. Italian Stoner / Grunge quartet Sons Of Lazareth are apparently named after an old family farmstead and, after four years on the road, debut album Blue Skies Back To Gray (Argonauta Records) is about to open up these jolly revheads to the wider market. Continue reading

P.O.D. – Circles

P.O.D. Is back with a new album, and pretty much continuing the arc they began on their last album The Awakening (Universal). Circles is the bands’ first album on their new label, Mascot Label Group, and we find the veteran band hanging out hard in their wheelhouse. By this point in their career, they know where they live musically and what their fans want from them. When they choose to experiment, like on the Rap Rock and Reggae heavy Circles, it’s always interesting at least. When they go to the tried and true, you get the classic P.O.D. Sound. There isn’t a lot of in between, or anything all new here, however. Continue reading

Bonfire – Temple Of Lies

Although they’ve been around since 1986 (or 1972 if you wish to include their previous incarnation, Cacumen), German act Bonfire have always had to live in the shadow of fellow countrymen and hard rockers Scorpions and Accept. Even with fifteen studio albums to their name, plus numerous compilation and live releases, the band has only ever achieved a limited, but steady amount of success.

With decades of personnel changes, reunions, and legal wranglings behind them, and with only guitarist Hans Ziller remaining as the band’s original member (and even he left the band for seven years after being fired in 1989), Bonfire’s latest line-up still manages to deliver the goods with their new record Temple of Lies (AFM).

Opening with a short, narrated, introduction, the bluesy guitar and neoclassical piano of ‘In the

Beginning’ sounds like something Manowar would come up with if asked to produce a beer commercial. Next up is the title track, a great song powered by a strong riff, dominated by the high pitched wailing vocals of new frontman Alex Staahl, and containing a chorus of which many a European Power Metal band would be proud.

The Dokken-esque ‘On The Wings of an Angel’ and ‘Stand or Fall’ are a little lighter but no less catchy, and with a very eighties title for a very eighties song, ‘Feed the Fire’ is slow, but solid foot-tappy goodness. ‘Comin’ Home’ is standard power ballad material and probably goes on a bit too long, while ‘I’ll Never Be loved By You’ is a slightly heavier ballad with big eighties hooks and a pleasant aroma of Meat Loaf.

You’ve been down this road before” sings Staahl on the faster paced ‘Fly Away’. Well, yes we have actually. Many times in fact, but it’s still good though. ‘I Help you Hate Me’ is a great little song with a headbangy, foot-stampy riff, but because of its reggae influence, automatically draws comparisons to the Scorpions’ superior ‘Is There Anybody There?’, and closing cut ‘Crazy Over You’ finishes the album in reasonable, but less than stellar fashion.

A worthy addition to the band’s back catalogue, Temple of Lies may not be Heavy Metal heaven, but it contains more than its fair share of highly creditable material and is certainly one of the strongest records the band has put out for many a year.

7.0/10

GARY ALCOCK

 

Sumo Cyco – Opus Mar

One of Canada’s best-kept secrets will be exploding into the music world once again as Hamilton, Ontario’s own Sumo Cyco drop their second full length album since establishing in 2011. Opus Mar (Self-Released/Pledge) was produced by their very own lead guitarist Matt ‘Md13’ Drake and renowned producer James ‘Lerock’ Loughrey, known for his work with Skindred and Joss Stone. Continue reading

Fire From The Gods Vocalist AJ Channer Discusses His Narrative

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Fire From The Gods recently released Narrative on Rise Records, and it’s an album I feel everyone needs to hear. The power of the lyrics is only enhanced by the intensity of the music, and it makes for a great listen, no matter what type of music you enjoy. AJ Channer‘s words are truly heartfelt, and he brings the listener on an uplifting journey from the beginning to the end. I’ve been a fan of his work for years now, but this is his shining moment, and a stepping stone for what can only be an even brighter future.

I recently got to chat with AJ about writing, recording, and performing the tracks on this new record, and you can read our interview below. This is a man that has something to say, and after you read his words, I urge you to grab Narrative today! Continue reading

Video: Kosha Dillz Featuring Matisyahu – Dodging Bullets

Kosha Dillz and Matisyahu. Photo credit by Ed Jansen

Kosha Dillz and Matisyahu. Photo credit by Ed Jansen

Indie Hip-Hop star Kosha Dillz has dropped a new video for his single ‘Dodging Bullets’ from his forthcoming new album What I Do All Day & Pickle, releasing July 15th. The track features Matisyahu, who also appears in the video. You can watch the clip at this link or below:

 

Kosha Dillz commented on the track:

When Matis wrote the hook, it first sounded like ‘dodging bullets’ from war, but I soon learned it was a metaphor for personal relationships. For me, the song has come to represent so much more upon performing it. Every time we play it, it makes you feel different. That is powerful to me.”

Matisyahu also commented, explaining the meaning of the track, referring to “anti-Semitic attacks against Jews and Israelis by the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement.” Matisyahu was recently shot at as a result of his stance against BDS.

This particular ‘bullet’ backfired on the BDS movement, as Jews and non-Jews spoke up about the injustice of the only publicly recognized Jew on the festival lineup being called out to promote a political agenda. The outcry from fans of all backgrounds grew loud enough that even the country of Spain itself denounced the festival for giving into the BDS movement, and as a result, the festival asked me to perform again.

Approximently [one] hundred BDS ‘bullies’ created a pyramid of antagonism trying to block my view of the fans while waiving large Palestinian flags, continually giving me the middle finger, and throwing shoes at me all while holding signs reading insults like ‘Naziyahu,’”

Skindred – Volume

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If you’re already a member of the Newport Helicopter Crew, you’ll probably know all of this, but if you’re new to Skindred, then let me take a minute to give you some background.

Back in the mid-90s, popular music genres were much broader than they are today. Music labels were still confident in their ultimate power over distribution and exposure, and alternative bands had to have their own unique sound to stand out and grab the attention of A&R reps. In a dark, grimy, beer-soaked corner between metal, indie, dance & pop lived a group of bands that resisted all attempts at pigeon holing. Every band was an eclectic mix of influences and all were as different from each other as they were from the mainstream.

Alongside the likes of SenserPop Will Eat ItselfCollapsed LungJesus JonesNed’s Atomic Dustbin and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine was a four-piece Welsh juggernaut called Dub War. Mixing metal, ragga and punk with dub and hip hop, the band put out two landmark albums via Earache Records before splitting up in 1999 due to disputes with the label, and from the ashes (well – Benji) of Dub War rose the mighty Skindred.

Featuring a more driven, heavier and ultimately far more successful sound, Skindred’s first album – Bablyon (Bieler Bros./Lava) – was a critical and (eventually) commercial success having featured on a myriad of charts (twice #1 on the Billboard reggae albums chart!) by its 3rd release. Whilst remaining similar in tone and content to Dub War, there was more subtle focus of guitar riffing in both the writing and the (clearly superior) production. The second album – Roots Rock Riot (Bieler Bros.) – signalled a move away from the old Dub War approach, establishing the distinct Skindred sound (which I shall call Skank Metal) in its own right and delivering the band squarely into the arms of the metal fraternity. From then through to 2011’s Union Black (BMG), fans have been treated to massive downtuned riffs, shoutalong breaks, roughneck vocals and sub bass drops as the band have motored through headline academy-level tours and 50k+ festival crowds. Last year’s Kill The Power (BMG) throttled back somewhat with a mellower and more varied sound.

Volume (Napalm) is Skindred’s sixth studio album, following hard on the heels of the last release (only one year between releases rather than the usual two or more), and seems in many ways to have come full circle. From the outset with ‘Under Attack’ there is a distinct and nostalgic return to the Dub War vibe. ‘Volume’ and ‘Hit The Ground’ are sublime fusions of old War and new ‘Dred. ‘Shut Ya Mouth’ is sure to be a moshpit favourite – it’s going to sound monstrous live – and ‘The Healing’ is a swaggering singalong with a euphoric chorus and some random sampling for an outro. ‘Sound the Siren’ has set-opener written all over it, ‘Saying It Now’ returns squarely to Dub War ‘Million Dollar Love’ territory, whilst ‘Straight Jacket’ is possibly the perfect song to show the uninitiated what Skindred is all about, ‘No Justice’ is a punky skankathon, ‘Stand Up’s Slash-esque rolling riff displays some classic rock chops and the show is closed with the near-ballad of ‘Three Words’.

In an age of bands that sometime seem shameless in their adherence to the confines of their parent (sub)genres, Skindred are an inspiration. There’s still no-one sounding remotely like them. Long may they continue.

 

8.0/10

 

PHILIP PAGE