S.T \m/. Powered by Blogger.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Single Review - Metallica - Lords Of Summer

Breathe a sigh of relief everyone.....it's good.

It's really, really good.

Where to even begin with the amount of things this track does right. First up there's some insanely weighty chords caked in THAT signature guitar tone as Lars pads out the atmosphere with his suitably lead-footed drumwork, creating a tension builder if there ever was one.

Then the riff. The first riff Metallica (or Hetfield) have put out in 6 years (No we're not counting Beyond Magnetic, the apology-letter the band put together to quell the flames of Lulu).
It's killer - just a sick, superbly-picked riff that instantly oozes heavyweight Hetfield ferocity. Although many seek to lambaste Jaymz's present-day vocal chords, the man can do wrong in my eyes, and when he's laying down licks as tight as this, it forever proves he's always been The Lord Riffmaster, and always will be.

Of course then it's the drums...my god the drums. There are a laundry list of times throughout the song where Metallica seem to have compiled a list of complaints naysayers always throw their way over the time between albums, stuck it on the side of a mannequin down some ethereal firing range and introduce it to the business end of a minigun, "YEAH-HEAH"-ing as they go.

Lars is back on righteous form. And when I say 'back on form' I mean in a positively THUNDEROUS way, as relentless double-bass pedalling erupts underneath Hetfield's corking riff, powering the entire composition no end and leading to a more standard pattern throughout the track that lets everyone catch their breath before it's Kirk Hammett's turn to bat.

First time Metallica had to 'prove themselves' was following St Anger, and Hammett pulled the That Was Just Your Life solo out his pentatonic-pantaloons, yet this time following the godawful Lulu sessions they somewhat had to regain their footing once again. However whereas Just Your Life's solo was a rather psychotic smattering of fret abuse that could demolish a nearby shopping mall, Lords of Summer's solo begins more subtly, with a repeating pattern that somewhat attempts to lay the groundwork for what's to come.

Can you guess what's to come? FUCKING WAH PEDALS that's what. What else? And what other scale to run them through than E Minor Pentatonic - the quintessential Kirk Hammett scale of choice.
It works a treat though, as say what you will about Mr. Hammett, but his stringent reliance on these scales with THAT wah-tone makes his playing instantly recognisable.
The mid-point of this solo actually heralds a Sabbathian time-change that I'm sure will destroy many rehearsals as the rest of us try to replicate in due time too.

The whole band then switches gears and Hammett busts out a more ...And Justice For All-style progression, connoting their older work yet leading perfectly into an unmistakably Struggle Within-esque pace-igniter that takes us right back into the chorus.

You really can't beat the full Metallica package, and when you combine Lars' fantastic drumming with Hetfield bellowing out some fantastic lyrics and Rob Trujillo providing Blackened-style backup gang-vocals as Hammett fizzles and cracks when he's needed most, Metallica have knocked this one out of the park only to kick off the ground and volley it further into the stratosphere.

The Lords of Summer have returned after 6 long years, and it's fucking brilliant to have them back.

S.T \m/

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Album Review - Beastmilk - Climax

Amongst a smog-filled dystopian landscape emerges Beastmilk, the self-appointed flag-fliers of 'Apocalyptic post-punk', their namesake drawing just as much interest and confusion, yet as the Finnish firestarters kickstart the engines with some spikey chords on opener Death Reflects Us, it all starts to make sense.

Codenamed bandmembers are the order of the day with guitarist Goatspeed taking lead axe duties, and whilst the overall tonality of Climax straddles the line between good ol' English-born punk, there's more than a touch of modern indie-rock revivalism in there too.
Singer Kvohst has a well-worn tone that conjures something as potentially left-field as the Kaiser Chiefs, and whilst they're about as post-punk as the Ramones were glam-rock, it remains a point of comparison that allows these guys to sound like they belong in the pantheon of legendary punk-talent, or the more contemporary outcrop of rock bands that dabble in the heavier side of the musical spectrum.

Tracks like Genocidal Rush conjure the best whisky-drenched nights out on the town with a group of mates, propping each other up whilst yelling slurred lyrics to the heavens.
Sometimes that's the only thing that hits the spot.
There's a reason the post-punk movement is so identifiable and instantly satisfying. Instrumentally Beastmilk tick both the boxes of post-punk aggression and softer vocal melodies simultaneously.
A case in point being You Are Now Under Our Control, a track with a driving rhythm section that eventually overtakes itself and segues into a brilliant drum-led section, removing Kvohst's vocals for a heavier reliance on slamming home some foot-possessing grooves.

As is the case with many punk albums, after the half-point there's something of a fatigue that sets in, seperating the men from the boys and those who are prepared to take Beastmilk onboard into their personal collection,  as without a huge variety in tonality or song structure, Climax dips in quality before picking back up the pace for the run up to the finish.
Lead single Love in a Cold World is a great reminder of the gears these guys can shift between, slightly turning things down to provide a great contrast to the rest of the album in spots, yet fitting perfectly as a lead-in to the final one-two of Surf the Apocalypse and Strange Attractors. The latter features a Black Keys-esque composition, ending the album on a high note yet also flexing their songwriting skills to show a wealth of influences and lofty comparisons.

Beastmilk have turned in a hefty debut with Climax, compiling their core appeal of sleazy rhythm sections and dynamic vocals into one package of occasionally infectious vocal hooks, atop a slamming head-bobbing instrumentation.
Bloody brilliant in spots, and occasionally a bit tired in others, but if you're looking for some education in the vintage school of punk, then grab a glass and get stuck in.

Recommended Track: Genocidal Crush

S.T \m/

Monday, 7 October 2013

Album Review - Trivium - Vengeance Falls

Take heed Avenged Sevenfold, this is how you make a more commercial-sounding, mainstream-baiting album, without directly ripping off what's gone before.

Even though the latest offering from Floridian juggernauts Trivium recalls their first attempt at crossover success (2006's still-underrated The Crusade), it remains a pretty serviceable slab of technically proficient thrash metal, with a tinge of the big leagues about it's overall stature.
Speaking of The Crusade, it was an album that received an ungodly amount of hate primarily due to lead screamer Matt Heafy emulating some James Hetfieldian 'yeah-hea's on first single Anthem (We Are The Fire).
As well as this fans resented Heafy smoothing out his vocals throughout in an attempt to craft a body of songs that would let a wider audience into their own brand of unrelenting gutteral screams and maniacally melodic soloing.

Well, after reverting back to that winning formula and re-stabilising themselves amongst the metal elite, Vengeance Falls was made in collaboration with Disturbed's David Draiman on producing duties. After hearing last year's phenomenal In Waves, Draiman stated he knew what had to be done to take Trivium to 'the next level', and for the most part, you can see exactly what they're trying to do. With Draiman's vocal prowess coaching Heafy, his range and projection has noticeably progressed, yet it is applied to a whole heap of cringeworthy lyrics throughout. You could argue that songs like No Hope For the Human Race or Incineration: The Broken World are undoubtedly very 'metal', but when what's come before is the likes of Throes of Perdition and A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation, having such cliched tropes trotted out by a band who can do better is definitely a sticking point.

As Draiman has again stepped in, questioning Heafy's more interpretable lyrical style that was at the forefront of In Waves, it gives much more focus to his now more standard delivery, meaning his usual gutteral style cannot mask the use of often plaintive lyrics. Songs like the aforementioned, alongside lyrics about 'ice cold daggers slipping through ribs' and the Disturbed-esque chug of To Believe sees Heafy conjure his inner Draiman to deliver some staccatoed vocals above a resolutely solid rhythm section.

It's a real shame to hear something of a departure from lyrics that asked something of the listener, the likes of which have permeated all of the band's previous albums. Trivium were on their way to carving out a definitive identity among metalcore and thrash bands through the inclusion of bassist Paulo Gregoletto doubling Heafy's clean sections whilst lead axeman Corey Beaulieu did the same for the harsher stuff. When all three were tag-teaming the likes of In Waves, it was a marked progression from what had gone before, yet for Vengeance Falls it feels like a step back to The Crusade, with lacklustre lyrics constantly bringing down the pace of an otherwise solid effort.
However aside from Heafy and his varied vocal attack, instrumentally Trivium are still legions above the rest, as having the dual leads of Heafy and Beaulieu sync up for some blisteringly fast harmonized solos should go someway to satiate the many who will have trouble acclimating to the new style.
As much as can be said negatively for Draiman's tinkering with what was already an 'if it ain't broke' situation, the overall production on Vengeance is top notch.
When the band kick in underneath a single riff on opener Brave This Storm or the title track, it instantly connotes the driving steam-engine resiliance of the Trivium of old, it's just a shame that with the likes of Strife, again the introduction of that vocal change is a jarring one.

Trivium have done more subdued tracks in the past, hell, Dying In Your Arms was the song that put them on the map back in the day, and from that to A Grey So Dark, Forsake Not the Dream and the phenomenal Caustic Are the Ties That Bind from In Waves, they seemed to have a firm grasp on the dynamic range at their disposal, cranking and displacing aggression in just the right spots. However on Vengeance Falls they're reaching for the lofty heights they have long since been denied by deviating from a sound that they completely owned.
With Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine often being touted as the next Download headliners off the back of really poor recent albums, Trivium have made a divisive turn that could alienate the Ascendancy/Shogun faithful, yet hopefully bring in a whole horde of new fans that can use Vengeance Falls as a gateway to their older and far more impressive work.

Recommended Tracks:
- As I Am Exploding
- Strife
- Vengeance Falls

S.T \m/

Monday, 30 September 2013

Album Review - Sorrow's Path - The Rough Path of Nihilism

It is with a gallop and a steadfast purpose that Sorrow's Path have delivered their long-awaited full length debut (originally released in 2010), capitalising on years of demos and touring, their sound is one of the most intricate progressive metal bands in the game.
With 20 years under their belt, you'd want to believe the band (possibly named after the Magic: The Gathering card of the same name!) are at the top of their game. Yet whilst the production on vocalist Angelo Ioannidis' strained range goes some way to emulate his pain and anguish when conveying the battle cries of war and lover-scorned lyricisms, ultimately he struggles to keep up with the rest of the band.
That's not to mention some of the editing post-production that heavy-handedly stitches multiple parts of a song together to make up the near 5 minute average runtime for each track. Segueing from female-lead operatic sections into more aggressive vocals all padded out with instrumentation that seems to fall over itself in an attempt to get noticed means the sound throughout Nihilism is one that requires you to already have some penchant for the genre.
If you've never heard of the likes of Candlemass or Memento Mori, you'll be far out of your depth, lost in a sea of dystopic key changes and sludgy rhythm passages, as although Sorrow are not utterly impenetrable like many an Opeth track, aside from their more engaging instrumentation, on the lyrical front this has to be firmly grappled with to be understood.

As for said instrumentation, after opening with a brilliantly sloppy riff on All Love is Lost, second track The Beast (S.P.R) is straight up Sabbath at their mid-tempo best. That is until the halfway point hits, heralding a very Maiden guitar line by Giannis Tzilikakis, powering the song along immeasurably. There's also the spectral intro of Getting Closer which connotes an early Nightwish, yet with both of these examples, Angelo's vocals always make Sorrow their own, his polarizing dulcet tones personifying the doom genre throughout.
Standout track Hymn of Differentiation opens with a driving, almost Coheed and Cambrian riff that helps chug things along until Tzilikakis once again opens up the melodic chopshop, cementing a great instrumental bed of constantly intersecting guitar lines and sycopated rhythms.

However for all it's genre-baiting allure, Sorrow's Path remain almost as monolithic and intimidating as their namesake, presenting a no-apologies album of the dankest doom metal money can buy. If you're equipped with the right mindset to get onboard with the demonic hellbound ephemera, you'll get infinitely more from these guys that the rest of us.

S.T \m/

Monday, 23 September 2013

Album Review - Alter Bridge - Fortress

Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, Scott Phillips.

The names of four guys that will soon be sitting alongside the James Hetfield's, the Angus Young's and the Bruce Dickinson's of this world.

Why? Because they've finally done it, they've made an album that fully capitalises on the juggernaut-steam they've had powering them ever since 2010's AB III lead single Isolation propelled them into stadiums and onto mainstream talkshows.

How the fuck do you even begin to dissect the amount of progression these guys have made with this album? Is it the classically acoustic intro of Cry of Achilles that perfectly sets the progressive tone of what's to come? The teeth-smashing fury of Peace is Broken? The Mayfield Four-esque vocals of Lover that segue all the different parts of Myles' frankly godlike range into one exuberant exhibition of exactly why Alter are one of the best melodic hard rock bands on the planet?

It's obviously all of the above, and SO much more.
After perfecting the hard rock template on 2008's Blackbird and knocking it out the park on that album's anthemically gorgeous title track, overall AB III turned things down for a more sombre self-reflective affair, telling a personal story of faith lost and dreams destroyed with the questions that inevitably arise through the coming of age.
For many including myself this was more of an album for the fans, with it's complex soloing arrangements and incredibly dark subject matter. If someone would enquire as how to get 'into' Alter Bridge, I'd point them in the direction of Blackbird.

However, all that changes from now on, because Jesus.Horatio.CHRIST they've more than delivered with Fortress. With lead face-grinder Mark Tremonti flexing his speed metal chops on last years' solo album and Myles' time touring with none other than Slash turning him into one HELL of a phenomenal frontman, the always potent combination of these two can easily stand up there with the great singer/guitarist combos of all time.

It's a testament to Myles' exquisite tone and his resolute belief in what he's singing about that he can deliver such potentially dividing lyrics as those in Cry a River or the genuinely uplifting chorus of All Ends Well where he begs you to 'believe in love' as well as 'believing in yourself'. In the hands of anything less than the messianic Mr. Kennedy this may have been a sticking point, but with his angelic tone hitting home on every syllable, it's some of the finest delivery of his career.

Then after all that, you have the title track Fortress, and what an incredible ending to such a stellar album. Clocking in like opener Cry of Achilles at around the 7 minute mark, it acts as yet another monolithic track, bookending Fortress as a monumental work that's as brutally solid and time-withstanding as its namesake.
A complete pace change 4 minutes in heralds a shift into the supersonic, as Myles and Mark both open their blues-groove and speed metal chopshops respectively, trading off scorched licks with unrelenting aplomb, driving the album home with enough force to make waves our grandchildren will feel for decades.

All of that is not to mention the little fan squeals any Alter-devotee will have at hearing Tremonti take lead vocals on the tremendous Waters Rising, the B-tuned Farther Than the Sun which features a STUPIDLY heavy riff Periphery would be proud of, or the intro of Calm the Fire where Mark channels his inner Yngwie Malmsteen underneath Myles' softspoken delivery.
There's just as many hidden trinkets fans will cherish, as their are humongous stadium-slaying guitar lines and singalong chants that will carry Alter and their diehard fanbase to headline the hallowed Donington turf in the coming years.

Fortress is the album of a career for four incredibly talented guys, all carrying with them a seperate suitcase of cylinders with which to fire from should their inbuilt systems ever take a day off. It's the culmination of two contract buyouts allowing them to produce the music they've always wanted to, and it's the perfect example of the best melodic hard rock and metal you'll find in 2013.

Absolutely fucking flawless.

S.T \m/

Sunday, 15 September 2013

EP Review - Matchstickmen - Acoustic Grooves to Soothe the Soul

I do love a good acoustic EP, don't you?
When they're done right, a gorgeous rich clean guitar tone can do wonders for songs that are solid at the core, regardless of previous levels of distortion, studio wizardry or other digital pyrotechnics.

By taking a small selection of songs usually played with a more substantial set of stones, Matchstickmen's tight instrumentation and Lewis Wright's learned sense of tonality means Soul is a welcome respite from a band more commonly flexing their aggression muscles.
As was proved last year by their attention-grabbing EP A Change in Season, the Liverpool-based grunge flag-fliers showed they were one of a small handful of current bands who can take influence from the greats of yesteryear and inject their own stadium-baiting identity into the final mix to produce something definably nostalgic without retreading well-worn paths further into the ground.

There's a touch of the Axl Rose's in Wright's lower register during the likes of Wilson's Lane and the fantastically catchy Dark Blue, and as was evident in their past work, Wright just needed to delve that little bit deeper to really hammer home the whole package the rest of the band were already on their way to delivering.
Said package is bound with a bow on the likes of the dark and brooding Flicker, a tune with the whole band locked in step to a swaggering groove as Wright compliments a lost love over the top. It's moments like this where you can hear the regular Matchstickmen machine in full flow, taking their more traditional sound and southern fryin' it up through a smattering of subdued chords, picking patterns and accessible pentatonic riffs.

Overall the Matchstickmen of 2013 is a refined beast still fervently learning their craft, with the likes of Dark Blue, Flicker and Not Knowing lingering long in the mind due to identifiable vocal hooks and textured instrumentation. It's with confidence that the band have delivered a solid EP that dabbles in something as potentially risky as drastically changing songs that previously had more heft and aggression, yet by toning things down it proves the songs were always going to work regardless of how forceful the delivery.

As a tide over to next year's album brought about by a clamouring fanbase never content with Matchstickmen whispering anything close to a day off, Acoustic Grooves continues to showcase a band who can adapt to the acoustic arena with ease and flair, producing a quieter way to experience their music before diving into their more cerebral catalogue and getting your sex-face on.

S.T \m/

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Album Review - Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King

I've never looked forward to an album so much, from a band with so much promise, and felt so utterly deflated when the final product arrives.

I can see what the Avenged chaps are trying to do, and through the insane amount of pre-release interviews they did talking about 'passing the torch' to themselves and carrying on where the titans of rock and metal left off, well, this album was going to have to be something spectacular to match those expectations.
The thing is, all the greats of old took influences from the people they grew up on, and did something totally original with them. There was noone who sounded like Maiden, Metallica, Pantera, Slipknot etc. in their respective times, and because of that, they excelled and grew into identifiable juggernauts with thousands of fans worldwide.

Avenged had that. And now they don't.

You used to listen to the likes of City of Evil and Waking the Fallen, hell I thought the self-titled album was pretty solid, and think 'there's no one else that sounds like this', and you were right. Yet with Hail to the King, they've retained a certain sense of their signature instrumentation and little else, all the while stripping each song of any real passion.
By trying to create an album for the masses, they've discarded the fury and identity that used to permeate their older material. We all gave them the benefit of the doubt on 2010's lacklustre Nightmare, being that as their drummer (and one of their key songwriters) Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan had passed away. Yet with this new album there's very little to convince anyone that the band are back on their feet. Instead it's quite the opposite, sounding like they're about to chuck in the towel as well.

Previous single Carry On had the requisite tenacity many were hoping to get a whole album of, instead there's just something so 'off' about these new tracks. They're all boring, lifeless trudges through what's gone before, hell Doing Time is beat-for-beat a Guns n' Roses track, down to M Shadows' whiney Axl-channeling vocals and the sleazy verse riff the song sits on. That doesn't make it a bad song, quite the opposite in fact, but it remains one devoid of any identity outside of now knowing what Axl & Co. would sound like if they ever get their act together.

On the bright side, every time the lightning-in-a-bottle shredding of Synyster Gates' get center stage, your ears prick up and take notice. Synyster is still one of the finest guitarists on the planet, and is just as identifiable here as he's always been, stirring advanced scales and tapping techniques into quite the mix of stadium-sized held notes and fanboy-studying runs.

A fantastic example of this is the ballad-turned-slammer Coming Home, featuring an extended dueling solo from Gates and Zacky Vengeance that proves to be the standout highlight of the entire album, conjuring just the right amount of old school Iron Maiden and the unique Avenged sound.
Sadly the same cannot be said about The Rev's replacement Arin Ilejay who, at the request of the band, is playing a much more subdued style than The Rev's maniacal brilliance. Although this works at serving the slower mid-tempo swagger the album is going for, it robs him of any identity on the kit, producing an almost machine-like tone save for a couple more instrument-heavy sections.

It seems that in trying to take in a vast wealth of influences and identities, Avenged have mostly stripped themselves of their own, leaving things like a horribly misguided choir section on the intro of Requiem, or Metallica's Sad But True-esque This Means War; a tune with a killer attitude that sadly runs way too long and could have been sliced in two for the sake of sanity. Avenged have done orchestral sections and quirky instrumentation before on the likes of Wicked End and A Little Piece of Heaven, but here it just sounds out of place alongside the big-shoulders swagger the rest of the album is going for.

The real problem here, is that Avenged have the look, the history, the overall OOMPH to be the next headliner, but aside from Coming Home there's not one track on here as huge as Beast and the Harlot or Almost Easy. Due to Shadows' sometimes world-slaying vocals, Synyster and Zacky's incredible playing and an overall production that ties all the elements together nicely, the final product here produces just as many groans as it does 'oh-man-that-sounded-awesome's.

Avenged would still slay a mainstage headline slot given the chance, however like a lot of the press the guys did before the album came out, it feels like they already believed they deserved the push, instead of allowing this album to cement it.

S.T \m/

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Single Review - Alter Bridge - Addicted to Pain

As a budding paid reviewer it's always important to retain a sense of professionalism when checking out new material.
"Cast aside your subjectivity, only objectivity shall remain" you say to yourself. "Ignore that certain pants-tingling sensation you encounter when your favourite band continues to release new material that makes you stare at your tattoo of said band with increased adoration. This is a review, not a press release".

Now then, with that out of the way, THIS.IS.FUCKING.AWESOME. And I shall tell you why.

Addicted to Pain is the new single from Alter Bridge's eagerly awaited 4th album 'Fortress'. With 3rd release ABIII and the global attention-demanding Isolation, Alter graduated to headlining stadiums worldwide, thus with the guys solidifying the release date for Fortress, all eyes are on Myles & co. to deliver an album of headline-slot possibilities.

Opening with some HUGE chords underpinned by a very dark riff, the initial impression is that of being reminiscent of Tremonti's brutally heavy solo album, which is obviously no bad thing. Scott 'Flip' Phillips drum tone is like a shotgun, immediately adding to the pace with each snare plugging another round into your chest, Testament-style.
Myles' vocals explode out of the gate as the song continues to build with him addressing an unknown detractor, and it has to be said he is on the form of his life. "Tell me how it feels to live a lie/ Tell me do you know that it won't ever be the same, you can't deny/ The house of cards just hit the floor".
Whilst it seemed he excavated all his demons on the likes of ABIII's Show Me a Sign and Slash-collaboration Not For Me, now that he's back on home ground with the musicians he built a career with, Myles is writing lyrics to be chanted by thousands.

Then we have THAT chorus.
Whilst it's not as huge as Isolation's vocally, the fucking BOUNCE on it instrumentally will stir the legions of fans into a euphoric stupor this year when the guys get back on tour.
You can tell Myles is having a blast singing the words, and as the pre-solo break kicks in, there's ABIII-esque background vocals, building into one of the most unique guitar solos I've ever heard.

Until the full album drops, or a live performance is captured, it's debatable if Myles has embraced his inner rockstar and cranked up his unique string-attack, or if it's Mark yet again expanding his powerhouse to include some more flair. Either way, the solo present has so much character and inbuilt technical wizardry, it could be either of them. However as the piece ends with a lightspeed run through an escalating picking pattern, I'd put my money on Tremonti, there's just so much power in his playing I think it gives the guy away.

This is one hell of a solid offering from the guys, going into what many are looking to be the album that justifies their current stadium status. With Alter being one of few bands to have a dedicated fanbase tenacious enough to carry them into the headline realm, Addicted to Pain is more of the same incredibly infectious vocal lines and buzzsaw riffage that they've come to be known for.
Myles' time fronting Slash is rubbing off on his lyrics, bringing about a man who is confident being a household name. Alter are stepping up to bat, with a swing more powerful than the hydron collider.

The world is watching.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Album Review - Newsted - Heavy Metal Music

Opening with the chug of a thousand metal bands, Newsted continues to produce the thickest prime cuts of vintage metal heard in years.
Whilst the headbangers of old have been experimenting with 3D movies and formulaic rock songs (Megadeth I'm looking at you!), Newsted has stripped back his approach to songwriting, secure in his freedom to unleash a passion project on the world after so many years away from your average metalhead. Amongst all the over-produced garbage that constitutes as metal these days, it's a breath of fresh air.

For any of the uniniated, Newsted is one of Metallica's former bassists. He was present when the band took over the world in 1991 with the Black Album, and when they were on the brink of self-destruction in 2001. Following a somewhat misguided foray into slicked-back hair and cigars, their management brought in a 'performance-enhancement coach', prompting Jason to quit, later echoing fans worldwide when he said it was "really fucking lame".
The metal world continued to love him ever since.
The thing is, with an album called Heavy Metal Music, you know exactly what you're getting into, and as previous EP Metal proved, Newsted's always menacing presence on-album is what makes this entire project something special. His growls and snarls from the many years of backing up Hetfield in Metallica are in full effect here, with Newsted sounding like he's recovered Dave Mustaine's missing testicles.
Speaking of the Metal EP, two songs have made the cut onto the full album; Soldierhead and the fucking BRILLIANT King of the Underdogs. They remain untouched in the transition, but it's still worth pointing out Underdogs sounds just as huge surrounded by more stellar content than it did on that little taster back in January.

These tracks are joined by the likes of lead single Above It All, a great sludgy number with an accompanying Tool-esque lyric video that also channels Motorhead's Orgasmatron, tying the song together with a heart-rupturing bass tone. That's not to mention the twisted riffage of Ampossible, and ...As The Crow Flies, a track so coated in Motorhead's signature engine grease it's clear the chaps could easily fill the iron-crossed boots of the legendary Lemmy one day.
Throw into the mix the nearest thing to a ballad there is with Nocturnus, featuring some more personal lyrics, and the soaring 'woah-oh's of Twisted Tail of the Comet, and you have an album that is primed to connect in the most direct way to every demographic of metal fan.
A strange choice lineup-wise was the addition of Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, previously absent from the EP, yet here he fits in perfectly. The guitar tones throughout Heavy Metal Music have an almost spectral quality to them, dunked in reverb with a splash of chorus, they fill out the tonality of the album and prick up the ears whenever an extended solo kicks in.
Mushok and previous guitarist Jessie Farnsworth trade licks throughout, with a much higher quality of playing that the simplistic parts found on Metal, with some sick faceoffs on the likes of Heroic Dose and the second last track Kindevillusion . Although the overall sound on the album is very bass-heavy and fuzz-tastic, Newsted hasn't gone hog-wild with bass solos, proving that his days playing guitar away from more mainstream exposure in the likes of Papa Wheelie have paid off. That being said, the closing few seconds of Ampossible showcase his recognisable juggernaut-chug, reminding everyone who's behind this whole thing in the first place.

Newsted hasn't pushed the boat out, reinvented the wheel, or invented a new cliche, the guy is a monolithic representation of traditional, bastard-heavy metal, delivered in the most steadfast and confident way. Whilst there are some modern 'metal' bands that have made a reputation off the whole 'oh-woe-is-me' approach, the likes of Newsted helped build the old school, and it's albums like this that show you what indestructible foundations the genre was built from in the first place.
If you like the chug of Motorhead, the snarl and grit of Megadeth, and the overall attitude of a man who's driven by the sheer love of the genre itself, then welcome aboard, The King of the Underdogs will see you soon.

S.T \m/

Friday, 26 July 2013

Album Review - Marla Mase - Speak (Deluxe Edition)

Opening with Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song scream, with a cacophony of noise and instrumentation, Marla Mase definitely brought her wavemaking machine.

A strange combination of underproduced vocals and scattershot instrumentation permeates Speak, an album featuring the Tomas Doncker Band but fronted by one Marla Mase. Mase has an on-album personality reminiscent of Bif Naked's attitude with some more homegrown eccentricities thrown in for good measure, yet it is her quirky unpolished tone found throughout that will be something of a huge divide amongst listeners.
Twinning Marla's sometimes strained vocals and spoken delivery with a band occasionally springing into life leads to tracks such as Queen of Imperfection lacking in the attitude department. When you're pushing a feminist view through intelligent lyrics and personality, a song with so many connotive possibilities should have the most attitude to hammer these ideas home.

Hailing from New York City, lyrics surround political society-bashing and self-worth through adversity. Yet during the vocals that feature throughout it would have proved much more effective to disregard conventional attempts at singing and scream some lyrics instead, hammering home the 'sound of the streets', voice of the people' embodiment Mase is surely going for.

Many songs feature spoken word pieces that put all focus on lyrics, the dissection of which produces questionable results. Whilst sometimes vocals tend to meander around a core concept, Marla has a tendency to describe a scenario in too much detail, instead of letting the listener fill in the blanks. There are occasional bursts of less-obvious lyricisms that evoke more than describe, yet the personality of Mase that comes across is always straddling the line between feminist lust object and powerfully intelligent underground leader.

As the instrumentation throughout the album is somewhat unremarkable, Tomas Doncker does perk up for a raunchy guitar solo every now and then, injecting some much needed variety into the heavily vocally-focussed proceedings beforehand. Fueling the 'from the streets' mentality, May duets with Method of Defiance's Garrison Hawk on reggae track 'Annarexia'. Whilst compositionally this isn't pushing any boundaries, by relaxing within them it allows a perfectly serviceable, funky track to mark a halfway point on the album.

The majority of lyrics are sung without the necessary drive and passion to really bring to life the Marla Mase personality seen throughout the album artwork, and real-life work. The song Lioness features Marla genuinely roaring down the microphone after describing the eating habits of such a creature, but the self-serious tone taken throughout the album means this very memorable section is left somewhat humorous.

From the basic artwork that adorns Speak, to the sound of the album overall, you want to get onboard with Marla's very infectious 'one-woman-show' mentality, as the real-world motivations that power these songs are full of genuine goodwill for great causes. Yet through the sometimes lacking production value, her project lacks the necessary weight needed to truly make a mark on the listener.

Their are very few parts that stick with you after listening, but the guitarwork here is one of them, in particular the tune Blog has Marla talking confusingly about being an amorphous spectral being that just 'exists' without any physical form while a raucous guitar line plays underneath her. It's these moments that show the band are capable of tying the project together at certain moments, but like two parallel snaking rivers, it's only at key points that those connections happen.

Speak possesses one hell of a personality in Marla Masa, yet for the most part, as her work in real life is speaking the word of the streets and representing the downtrodden, this passion is severely lacking on-album.
Although the band may be in possession of a wave machine, until they reign in some of the more questionably quirky moments on the album such as the multiple roars or the simplistic lyrics, there won't be enough energy to turn it on.

Check Marla and her causes out at her official site, and check out samples of the album to see for yourself right here.

S.T \m/

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

EP Review - Extra Curricular - Notify/Robbin Hood

If you're yet to check out Leeds' six-piece groove-wizards Extra Curricular, you're truly missing out on some of the most funkadelic, hip-possessingly infectious grooves available on audio equipment. With a solid few years of touring under their belt, I had the pleasure of interviewing the chaps last year, and it seems being on the road created a solid fervor of anticipation to get back in the studio and lay down some more of their unique chemistry for all to hear.

Any frequenter of a Curricular live show will have heard lead single Notify; a song with a vocal hook so huge it could harpoon Moby Dick. Resolutely tight in its' execution of the many things that make up the unique EC sound, the band show no signs of slowing down, instead doubling down on the effortlessly cool vibes that permeate their live show.
Charismatic people's champion Thabo Mkwananzi starts out with his iconic refrain, "we don't need no permission, we don't need supervision" he utters as the bands brass section perks up behind him, padding out your speakers in the most rich of ways. The third track on this EP is a remix by Huddersfield DJ's Noji, taking the rich instrumentation of the original and replacing with a more clublike electronic soundscape.

On second track 'Robbin Hood' the band try something different, starting out with some moody piano stabs as Thabo details best laid plans gone south. As in the past Curricular have collaborated with a number of different artists, the version of Robbin Hood here differs slightly to the live version, featuring Lack of Afro to funk things up a bit. There's hints of Daft Punk in the second verse whilst bassist Jack Button effortlessly riffs away underneath, the whole song tied with a bow of the sweetest kind by an exquisite production.

As I've already pointed out in my previous reviews of EC's live performances, these are one of the most talented bunch of musicians I've seen live, able to improvise sections of music that other bands would go lifetimes getting nowhere close.
Each synth pops and pulsates on-record with the kind of kineticism you can only feel from musicians having a total blast putting something together. With lead guitarist Martin Chung's live trademark fret-abuse reigned in for a more subdued solo on Notify, saxman John Waugh also weaves his lines in and out of each song.
Extra Curricular are a band of monumental weight and power, sure to attract any listener of just balls-to-bone great music.

When it's all delivered in such a slick and above-all positive way, EC won't just be a band to keep an eye on, they'll constantly be in full view.

See when the guys are playing near you on their official site, or grab a copy of Notify/Robbin Hood over here.

S.T \m/

Monday, 15 July 2013

Single Review - Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King

It's about time something substantial from this album showed up.

The world of heavy music is in desperate need of the next festival headliner. With the Metallica's and Maiden's of this world moving into 'greatest hits' territory, it turns to the likes of Avenged to step up alongside fellow generation-definers Slipknot and prove why they deserve a headline slot.
Hail to the King as an album is almost a 'make-it-or-break-it' step for Avenged, as whilst you could argue they've already made it in terms of having a very devoted fanbase and near-household recognition, following the passing of their drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, we've been waiting to see what a compeletely new project from the guys would sound like.
With 2010's Nightmare still shadowed by The Rev's departure, it was a bit of a duffer overall, and so as Hail to the King's KILLER finger-tapped intro slowly builds, it almost feels like a resurrection of sorts. Although last years' Carry On was a blisteringly fast single aimed squarely at a mainstream audience, it's with this album vocalist M Shadows stated the band were heavily influenced by the bands of metal's heyday in the 80's and 90's. And boy can you tell.

No stranger to Pantera's tree-felling grooves with their cover of Walk, Hail starts off with a lumbering bass-beat complimented by some monstrous chords that accompany Synyster's finger-tapping, providing the perfect canvas for Shadows' to deliver some atypically 'metal' lyrics. The hailing of said king permeates the chorus, alongside some brilliantly Maiden-esque descriptions of desolate towns falling by the sword, all powered by Shadow's incredible projection.

With Synyster Gates again on impeccable form, his guitarwork here is, as always, unmatched. Say what you will about Avenged, they're always instantly definable on-record.
From the aforementioned finger-twisting intro, to his extended solo near the climax of the song that calls to mind the moodiest Iommi pieces, yet retain Gates' effortless fretboard-spannin flair, the Avenged chaps have constructed a wave-making machine of titanic-toppling proportions, and they're just getting started.

Whilst said chorus could maybe do with a sharper hook to really bury this song in your brain on first listen, this is a tune built from the ground up for festival crowds. It's a set-opener made for copious amounts of fist-pumping and drunken chanting, and as a potential album-opener it serves to call back all the ludicrously fun self-aware vibes of metals past wrapped in a modern production, and layered throughout with Avenged's stellar musicianship.

In the words of Duke Nukem; 'Hail to the king, baby'.

S.T \m/

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Songs of the Year so far...

Welcome back everyone!

I remember yesteryears' lists like they were...well, last year! But it's time for some more songs of the year so far, and in this sweaty-ass summer we're enduring (in England at least, the rest of you guys are probably used to it) there's nothing better than a smattering of the finest songs mankind's music elite have produced in 2013!
Man, what a year it's been so far! With Alice in Chains and Sabbath heading up the big hitters alongside the next generation's tattoo-inspirers Letlive and Bring Me The Horizon, 2013 has already been a year to remember. So stick your metal diving shorts on, and head on in, the water's bloody beautiful!

10. Newsted - King of the Underdogs - Full review
Metallica's former bassist Jason Newsted returned to the metal world with a slaughterhouse full of brutal breakdowns and meaty as FUCK riffs. The start of Underdogs is such a section; brutal chord chokes are heralded by Newsted's uniquely-throaty rallying cry of 'COME ON!!', before the whole song kicks into a sledgehammer swinging groove. Jason's approach to songwriting is a refreshingly stripped-back approach of turning up the fuzz pedals and writing fantastically 80's-baked thrash coated in a production that screams live performance.

9. Tremonti - All That I Got - Full review
Any new music from the thrashing legend that is Mr. Mark Tremonti is sure to get on any list of mine. With Alter Bridge's fourth album rumoured to be dropping in September, Tremonti's 2012 solo album is still a very satisfying tide-over. All I Got is one of two bonus tracks requested by fans since that album started touring, and featuring the heaviest breakdown The Tremonster has ever put his name to, it's a stupidly heavy grind of double-bass pedals and muted notes that will mush your eyeballs into a gooey paste.

8. Stone Sour - Do Me a Favor -
Full review
Some day, when Corey takes his righteous place as Ruler of the Free World, I'll post a review in such scarce words, and everyone will immediately know the sentiment. Until then though, I'll instead tell you about the lead single from HoGnB Part 2, a uproariously anthemic stormer with a chorus that's more infectious than the cordyceps virus (Last of Us FTW). Corey is the hard rock spirit incarnate, with Slipknot on one side and Stone Sour the other, I'd start bowing down now.

7. Killswitch Engage - A Tribute to the Fallen - Full review
The return of Killswitch was one hell of a kick in the face to the likes of Bullet who turned in a spectacularly shite 'metalcore' album this year with 'Temper Temper'. KSE are a band who know exactly what they're doing, and bringing original vocalist Jesse Leach back gave the entire project a refined sense of 'LET'S DO THIS'. Tribute has a real sense of groove to it considering it's elaborate composition, and with Adam D letting fly on the fretboard, it comes complete with flame-tinged icing to one mighty tasty cake.

6. Black Sabbath - Loner - Full review
Another 'returning band' this year, but I don't think anyone expected Sabbath to pull this many tricks out of the bag at their age. With Tony Iommi battling cancer and Ozzy having his own fair share of life scares, the world waited with bated breath as to what the Lords of Darkness could conjure up. Pleasingly it was a meld of old school bluesy Sabbath head-nodders soaked in a modern production that makes each song have the heft of Godzillian proportions. Loner is the 'N.I.B' of this album, and you just try staying put when THAT rhythm section kicks in.

5. Alice in Chains - Lab Monkey - Full review
Chains entered 2013 with their game face on. Having proved to the world that they could continue without the iconic, legendary Layne Staley, William Duvall is more than capable of replicating his signature drawl. With Duvall also possessing his own flair on the guitar, Lab Monkey is one of many tracks that proves the Alice in Chains of 2013 is a different beast than what's gone before. Playing with established structures, dual guitars and harmonised vocals reach a boiling point with a game-changer chorus that makes a huge appearance halfway through. Incredible stuff.

4. Airbourne - Back in the Game - Full review
I believe the correct pronunciation of Airbourne is 'FUCK YEAH', and the only way you're gonna be able to pull that off in the appropriate fashion is to be doused in a sweat n' alcohol cocktail, screaming your lungs out whilst the guys play their tits off onstage. Back in the Game is more of that now-signature Airbourne goodness. A thick AC/DC/Rose Tattoo riff that segues effortlessly into some badass lyrics, and a pure leather-jacketed chorus, delivered with the endless good-time vibes these guys are building a career on. Rock is most definitely alive, well and kicking the hell out of everything surrounding it.

3. Bring Me The Horizon - Anti-Vist - Full review
Noone was more surprised than me when of all bands, Bring Me the shitting Horizon turned in a good album, let alone an album that's a genre-progressing foray into electronic-injected metalcore with a dabble of hardcore thrown in for good measure. You really need to see Bring Me live for it all to make sense if you're still on the fence, as while tracks like Anti-Vist sound suitably pugnacious and mum-offending on-album, it's only when a few thousand of you join in bellowing the words like it's your final breath, that the entire experience makes perfect sense. I'm sorry I ever doubted you BMTH, this is future headliner stuff right here.

2. Letlive. - Banshee (Ghost Fame) - Full review
If Michael Jackson was born in the 90's, raised on Rage Against The Machine and eventually formed a hardcore band, it would be Letlive. Banshee is one of an entire album stuffed to the brim with crazy-memorable melodies, raucously throat-straining screams, and more character than the history of Pixar. Jason Butler is a frontman making waves by climbing staging equipment, surfing atop a flurry of adoring fans, and writing some of the most intense and thought-provoking lyrics this year. Letlive are absolutely incredible, and if you let the likes of Banshee into your mind, it'll plant enough seeds to grow into a lifelong fan.

1. Heaven's Basement - Welcome Home - Full review
My new favourite thing in the world, Heaven's Basement are the finest live band I've seen in years, all the while dominating the modern rock soundscape on album as well. With songs like Welcome Home they've took the tenacity of modern punk, slapped the swagger and big shoulders of hard rock over the top, and delivered it through metal's thrashlike sensibilities of endless touring and a sense of drive unmatched by bands retreading old ground. These guys are the band of the moment, the band of the past, and the band of the future. Filthy Empire is a flawless album, and each of it's songs could be in this no.1 spot. Check.them.out.

So there you go!
Only halfway through the year and there's already such a smattering of tunes to define a decade. Top stuff all round, so check out the full album/single/EP reviews if anything has tickled your fancy, and keep checkin IRTIA for more of the latest awesome music!! :D

S.T \m/

Saturday, 13 July 2013

EP Review - Monks of Mellonwah - Ghost Stories

Monks of Mellonwah are the latest band to tap into the potent mainstream-baiting cocktail of infectious vocal hooks and solid instrumentation (Black Keys and Imagine Dragons I'm looking at you!).
With their debut album 'Turn The People' on the horizon, they've elected to distribute it in three volumes, the first is Ghost Stories, a pretty loaded look into a band who are fit to burst with influence-juice.

Title track 'Ghost Stories' calls to mind the laid back vibes of early Chili Peppers, before a more Adam Levine-esque vocal drops in to compliment the loose beat Josh Baissari plays with throughout the song. Compositionally Monks are very well versed musicians, layering songs with multiple guitar lines and (on Ghost Stories) a total tonal shift at the climax of the song that turns into one incredibly SICK repeating guitar riff. Utilizing sublime deployment of the wah tone we've come to know and love in many a funky rock song, it's definitely a stand-out moment on the album, and something that elevates this first song into the upper echelons of your memory banks.

Shifting gears into bluesy stomper 'Vanity', the Black Keys influence is way more apparent, with a sweet fuzzy riff twinned again with a loose beat underpinning Vikram Kaushik's tender vocals. The addition of gang vocals to compliment the almost Sabbathian riff that surges throughout is a masterful touch, yet more aggression in the delivery of said chants wouldn't go amiss. That being said, when the band sync up and all jump in together, cymbals firing off in all directions underneath THAT riff, it's more than enough to keep the blood pumping.

Final track 'Sailing Stones' conjures up memories of London's 'here-today-gone-tomorrow' rockers 'Rooster', a band who also featured similar bright vocals backed by a very rich, pop-sounding band. Where Monks differentiate yet again is within their composition, bringing out a very eastern-sounding guitar solo that almost comes out of nowhere. Yet it's placement within the song exudes that uniquely pleasurable scrunched-face charm only possible by connecting a certain number of notes together through an electric guitar.

Overall this is a very promising first third of a debut, with each song having unique sections immediately worth revisiting. Whether its Ghost Stories' wah-fuelled fret-abuse or Vanity's lock-step grooves, Monks of Mellonwah are a band already garnering suitable buzz through relentless touring and a new record deal with Muse and Coldplay's chaps, A&R Worldwide.

Let's hope they can make this ghost story a reality.

Recommended track:
Ghost Stories

Check out the set of dates planned on their official site, and grab a copy of the EP over here.

S.T \m/

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ryan Davis 1979 - 2013

Maybe you've never heard of Ryan Davis.

Maybe you've never even heard of Giant Bomb, or Jeff Gerstmann, or Vinny Caravella, Brad Shoemaker or any of the guys that work at that fantastic website.
Regardless of how much you do or don't know, this week we all found out that one of the founding members of GB, Ryan Davis, sadly passed away at the age of 34, after just getting married the previous week.

As a huge gamer and someone who followed Davis and Gerstmann way back when they worked at Gamespot, I was one of the many who 'jumped ship' with the guys following Gerstmann's departure to witness the series of 'Building the Bomb' videos that eventually birthed what we now have as Giantbomb.com.
That was back in 2007. Since then that small but slowly expanding crew of gaming journalists put out daily content featuring behind-the-scenes videos of them hanging out, weekly podcasts talking about everything from favourite fast-food places to movies, games, lifestyle choices and much more.
I know I'm not alone in saying that I definitely felt a very real, friendlike connection to Ryan Davis, having interacted with him and the guys on pretty much a daily basis, listening to what they were getting up to, and hearing about what they were playing, watching or looking forward to. The GB community is one of the best online communities I've ever seen and been a part of, and it's one that transcends the more aggressive forum style seen on other sites into a genuine feeling of friendship and companionship.

I remember a couple years back when I was 21, I got diagnosed with chickenpox, which you'd think is no big deal. Luckily nothing ever came of it, but at the time I remember googling contracting the skin disease at such a late age, and reading that it could lead to permanent scarring, or that it could even be fatal (Google results would tell you a particularly violent sneeze could kill you, but still!), and so late at night you get to thinking y'no? So I went on GB's community forums and just posted what I was up to, what I was thinking, and put the question out into the ether asking if anyone else had been through what I had.
Obviously the first person in perfect GB fashion just put 'it's all over, you're a goner dude!', but the following comments were reassuring and helpful. It might seem stupid, it might seem just plain 'weird' to be going onto what is ostensibly a gaming site talking about a childs skin disease, but for that night I was extremely grateful to be part of Giant Bomb, and everything that Ryan and Jeff created.

It's definitely a strange feeling crying over someone you didn't even 'know', but seeing the thousands upon thousands of posts people have been flooding the site with, alongside all the tributes that have been popping up on every single gaming site I've seen, and the latest video the guys have done showing the many bunches of flowers they've just received, it seems that mentality is definitely the most common.

Whilst it might feel strange, I fully embrace the fact that regardless of whether Ryan knew the thousands of people he influenced, by living a very large part of his life online, they all including me, felt like they knew him.

Davis was not a celebrity, nor was he a nobody, the giantbomb guys exist somewhere in between the two. They're a team of professional journalists who had the balls to turn the cameras on and let us all along for the ride since day 1.
We all laugh when Brad fails at playing another game, and we all congratulated Vinny on becoming a father, yet it's only when something as jarring and life-changing like this happens, that truly makes you realise what you've become a part of.
All the guys at GB must be finding this excrutiangly hard, but the outpour of affection and communal sadness shows just how much they mean to each and every user, as well as the industry itself.

Ryan Davis was a friendly, relatable guy who was loved by thousands, and I will miss him dearly.

R.I.P duder


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Album Review - The Gabriel Construct - Interior City

Sitting here on a swelteringly hot British-summer afternoon, watching the world pass by and having your face gently tickled by a summer breeze should be the perfect time to take in a high-concept album such as The Gabriel Construct's Interior City. Yet for every beautifully layered synth adding to the ambiance, there's an off-sounding vocal or an instrumental interjection that conjures a feeling of confusion, instead of anything more grandiose or worthwhile.

City is a concept album; the brainchild of avante-garde mastermind Gabriel Lucas Riccio, a man of Devin Townsend-esque effervescent qualities, but seemingly without the self-awareness. Whereas Townsend can go from sprawling, expansive, trance-inducingly beautiful tracks such as 'Ki' or 'Ghost', through to refined anthemic soul-stirrers like 'Where We Belong' or 'Addicted!', his personality always shone through as a man so full of charisma he could twang an elastic band for 2 hours and there'd be some artistic merit.

Here the average track length is around 7 minutes, and with three breaking the 10 minute mark, Gabriel Construct are in no way writing accessible tunes. In fact like Anathema's sumptuously gorgeous 'Weather Systems' from last year, the idea was to write musical 'experiences' more than sticking to particular structures or established genre tropes.
Tracks like 'Languishing in Lower Chakras' feature almost ten minutes of incoherence, including long stretches of crickets at night, and a man repeatedly shouting 'get me out of here!'. Whilst you could insist that it's contributing to the overall 'feel' of the album as an experience, it has to be said it's allowances for such things that really hammer home the notion that Riccio lacks refinement in his approach to these ideas.

However the end result is an album that does grow on you if you're willing to invest the time in it, as progressive bands like Anathema and Opeth always reward those who attentively listen to each and every track multiple times, making sure it's only a select few who truly 'get it'.
As is also usually the case with experimental music such as this, a song can live and die by its lyrics, having no other discernible 'hooks' to fall back on. As Subway Dwellers nears it's climax, the protagonist in our story is questioning the life he finds himself in, and with an extended section focussing on this plight, you'd expect to be moved by what you're hearing.
However with lyrics as stayed as "Why should we be trapped by our making?/ Why should we let this happen?/Why should we stand back and let this happen?/Who's idea was all of this?/Someone tell me/Tell me please", it only prompts sighs instead of contemplation.

The production throughout is stellar, and the musicianship extremely solid, yet there's a certain something lacking in Riccio's more intense deliveries. When Anathema's Cavanagh brothers sing about losing someone or struggling to find yourself on the likes of 'The Beginning of the End', or 'Untouchable (Part 1)', there's an immediate bond you form through hearing someone verbalise tearing their heart out. Whilst closer 'Curing Somatization' is the most Townsendian of the album, it still conjures up the notion that every idea Riccio came up with has been crammed into each song, instead of being more carefully thought out, removing a lot of the intense fire that fuels the aforementioned artists.

There are moments on Interior City where the orchestrated backing, piano-led rhythms and overlong segments tie up into something truly memorable as on 'Retreat Underground', yet they are few and far between. This leads to an overall feeling of an artist BURSTING with wondrous ideas that must be told, yet at the same time needs to be somewhat controlled.
An external producer is what's needed to throw away the incongruous bursts of instrumentation that break an otherwise solid song, and tie the entire project together with a stronger focus.
The world's most luxurious galleries must first be entered to be fully admired, and with a few more miles travelled, Riccio and his esoteric approach to songwriting would surely have no problem letting people in.

Recommended track:
Retreat Underground

Check out The Gabriel Construct out over at their official site or grab Interior City on iTunes over here.

S.T \m/