Metalcore/post-hardcore band, Ice Nine Kills, based out of Boston, Massachusetts are set to release their upcoming live acoustic EP, Undead & Unplugged: Live From The Overlook Hotel. The record is based around a live acoustic set from a small crowded show in Colorado at The Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King loosely based the story in his famous novel, The Shining. The EP features five tracks from their previous album, The Silver Scream.
The first song off the EP is “Savages.” With that great catchy sing-a-long chorus, the clean acoustic guitar, it was very fitting to put on the EP. “Thank God It’s Friday” is the next song on this record and it sounded great listening to it. I was even rocking to it like the original version. They did a great rendition of the song. Up next is “A Grave Mistake” and “Love Bites,” with that very hard catchy chorus, and they sound great acoustically. The last song on this record is “Enjoy Your Slay.” This song is a great song to just enjoy and to kick back to. Overall this record is great if you enjoy acoustic songs and love Ice Nine Kills. I hope to hear more acoustic renditions of future Ice Nine Kills songs.
The Richmond, Virginia based groove/heavy metal legends, Lamb of God, have returned with their first body of original work in five years. Originally scheduled for a May 8th release, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed certain aspects of the aforementioned album resulting in the band and their label to delay the album by six weeks to make sure they could fulfill everything for the fans. The brand new self-titled release marks the band’s eighth album, and the first since the departure of their long time drummer Chris Adler. The album features newcomer Art Cruz, also of Winds of Plague and ex-Prong on the drums. Lamb of God recorded the album at Dave Grohl’s recording studio, Studio 606, in Northridge, California. The group also partnered once again with their longtime producer Josh Wilbur, also best known for his work with Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, and Trivium, to produce the ten track album.
Lamb of God began the writing process for the album’s ten tracks a few years ago before they took a break to hit the road after an offer they could not refuse came their way, to join Slayer as main support on their final expansive world tour that was dubbed, The Final Campaign. Vocalist D. Randall Blythe took an approach to the lyrical side of the album drawing from early punk, and wrote with his mind on past and current world affairs. There isn’t any one track on the band’s self-titled record that’s about any specific individual. Instead the band examines past and current topics in the world rather looking at the causes of these problems from a wider perspective.
Lamb of God opens up with the track, “Memento Mori.” Beginning with a haunting intro with slow methodical guitars, with Blythe clean singing quietly over top, until the track explodes to it’s truest form. “Memento Mori” touches on the topic of not being consumed by your cell phone, computer, and/or television. It’s important to remain engaged with the real world in front of you, stay informed, and not just live in and consume a digitally filtered representation of our own reality, to help yourself maintain a positive mental state. “The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori.”
“Checkmate” is a ferocious track brushing upon the wide-angle perspective of modern world events that could be perceived that they occur because of political activity. Hatebreed’s own Jamey Jasta appears on the track “Poison Dream” and Testament’s frontman Chuck Billy appears on the track, “Routes.” The song “Routes” is a monster of a track from it’s fast thrash-esque riffs, to it’s bombardment of drums, or the lyrical content. The song was inspired by Blythe’s time protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, between 2016 and 2017. It was vital of Blythe to have an Indigenous American voice represented on the track, and by enlisting Chuck Billy, who is of Pomo Native American heritage, he achieved that need. “A black snake beneath the ground, extinction dripping from his mouth / Poisons water, hearts of men who choke the sky and rape the land.”
The eighth studio album from Lamb of God is best described as a joint piece of work of each of the band’s five members contributions, blended all into one singular sound spread among ten blistering tracks. Both guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, fan the flame on the album with their endless barrage of riffs, taking what Lamb of God are best known for, and unimaginably, raising the stakes like ever before. Bassist John Campbell is evidently looming at large behind it all with his rhythmic sections on the tracks, while drummer Art Cruz brings a new perspective with his recent addition to the group and some fresh and exciting dynamics to the drumming. Vocalist D. Randall Blythe is still as angry, insightful, and informed as ever. He’s never been one to hold back his voice in the past on major world events, or his previous incarceration, trial, and acquittal of manslaughter in the Czech Republic, that was the main lyrical focus on their previous album, VII: Sturm und Drang. Blythe once again faces these subjects of the human nature head-on, on the newest set of material only as Lamb of God can in the past, present, and future. It’s more than certain that Lamb of God will satisfy any metal fan who listens to this timeless piece of work.
One of the newest bands on the scene set to rise through the ranks is the metalcore/post-hardcore band, GroundCulture who hail from Newcastle, England. The quintet have delivered their much anticipated ten track debut record, How Well Do You Know Yourself? The band’s music is meant for the black sheep, the underdogs, the outcasts. This album was created with the purpose of making the outsiders feel seen, heard, and as though they belong. Every single track on How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? was designed by the members of GroundCulture to approach a different angle of an individual’s self-discovery.
The opening track of How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? is the blistering song, “Life Won’t Wait.” As the track opens, vocalist Roy Watson yells the words, “How well do you really know yourself?” I feel this line frames this entire album and begins the thought provoking dive into the psyche of the human mind that takes place throughout the record. The song mostly covers the topic of how life doesn’t slow down and sometimes you just need a break from it all. “Self-destruction’s the face of a stranger / Life won’t wait / Set your pace and stretch yourself to the changes you’ll make.”
“REALEYES” is the albums lead single and opens with an alluring and haunting female voice singing the words, “Don’t wanna wake up,” an element that continues throughout the entire track. “REALEYES” tackles the subject of kicking your subconscious in the teeth and appreciating who you truly are underneath the surface. “You make me wanna find my strength / As I begin to realize I’d been giving up / Nothing matters when you close your eyes / Nothing matters when you realize time’s on your side.”
The album’s second single, “Trauma Can Teach,” continues with the band’s now known boisterous sound and showcases more of their influences in the likes of Architects and The Ghost Inside, in shaping what their sound is today. “Trauma Can Teach,” illuminates the fact that all of our painful experiences hold immense value and power when faced properly. “It’s not gospel / For I search in the darkest of corners for moments to feel alive / Find something to believe in / All this stress is my vector for suffer spent.”
GroundCulture leave their tempestuous energy behind them to close out How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? On the penultimate track, “Dream Like a Child,” the band bring the tone down for a post-hardcore track featuring, Philip Strand, the front man of the pop/rock band, Normandie. Ending off, How Well Do You Really Know Yourself? is the beautiful acoustic track, “1974.” Leaving you with the final message of loving your true self after having you ask yourself, “How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?” during the albums duration of thirty-seven minutes.
The Pennsylvania metalcore quintet, August Burns Red, return with their impressive, continuously catchy and melodic ninth studio album, Guardians. The band has been going strong for the last seventeen years with a majority of original members still intact and after the success of their previous album, Phantom Anthem, that garnered two Grammy Award nominations, the band continues to deliver their melodic metalcore stylings for their ever growing dedicated fan base on these eleven tracks that is now known as, Guardians.
August Burns Red took a different approach to the writing and recording of Guardians as the band hunkered down in the studio during periods throughout 2019 to write and record the album in a few parts, rather than in one singular cluster, resulting in the most time they’ve taken to complete an album. Purposely trying to create their best work they could possibly write. August Burns Red wrote and recorded the album in York, Pennsylvania at Think Loud Studios with their longtime producers, Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland.
“After the first session, we had months to think about what we might want to change. We never had this much time and liberty for production. It enabled everyone to be more critical and think about putting an individual stamp on the songs. Think Loud, was also the nicest facility we’ve ever tracked in. We had tons of room to work and be creative. We’re super proud of the final product. Dustin and I collaborated more than we have in the past as well. Typically, one person will write a whole song and send it to the band. We all got to contribute here,” says lead guitarist, JB Brubaker.
Throughout the entirety of Guardians, it features the loose underlying theme of being there for another person who’s reaching out for help. A concept that drummer, Matt Greiner, wanted to write about on one or more tracks on the album. This theme was also an idea that recurred for the members of August Burns Red as they put the album together as a whole over the various stints within the studio throughout the last year.
“Bones,” which is the albums second track and also coincidentally the second single off Guardians starts slow at first before becoming a fast, catchy, yet melodic track that follows the subject matter of how certain acceptable (and unacceptable) traits of a person are etched within a human beings soul or bones. “It’s in our bones to be benevolent / It’s in our souls to be of service / It’s in our bones to be benevolent / It’s in our souls.”
“Defender” is the fourth track on Guardians as well as the albums lead single. The track was one of the first tracks written for, Guardians. It’s the main track of the album that really hits the hammer to the nail on the loose underlying theme previously mentioned, of somebody being there for another person who’s reaching out for help. “I need a defender / A voice that shakes to calm the quake / I need a defender who bends and breaks in my place.”
“Lyrically, I wanted to write about being able to reach out to someone. We all need a person who can take the punches for us when we need them to. We need a defender who bends, so we don’t break. The music matched perfectly.” Says drummer, Matt Greiner.
“Lighthouse” is another catchy tune on the eleven track effort that touches on the topic of helping others who need a helping hand and how one can be a good Samaritan for a person in need. “Take another look around / There is so much lost to be found / People everywhere are hurting, even though they’re counted out / There is so much lost to be found.”
A couple stand out tracks worth mentioning are “Bloodletter,” which notably is the album’s heaviest track, if not one of August Burns Red’s heaviest tracks to date. As well, Guardians comes to it’s culmination with the track “Three Fountains.” The track is a near six and a half minute epic with the most excellent feel to end off, Guardians on a high note.
While the band did take a different approach than previous albums on Guardians, it proved effective as August Burns Red hit it out of the park with what is the perfect collection of music for the bands fans and metal fans alike. While it draws the same vibe from all their previous albums, Guardians maintains constant catchy choruses throughout, display a slightly slower side of the band at times, and certainly keeps the high octane energy from beginning to end.
“We just want the fans who have been supporting us year in and year out to feel like we put out the best possible record we could make. I hope they sit down and smile when they listen to it—and want to see it [performed] live.” Concludes guitarist, Brent Rambler.
Genre: Post-Hardcore, Metalcore, Alternative Metal
Label: Fearless Records
Song Highlights: “BURNING YOUR WORLD DOWN”, “THANK YOU”, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II)”, “MONOMANIA”
The Word Alive, a metalcore/post-hardcore band based out of Phoenix, Arizona has released their anticipated sixth studio record, MONOMANIA. The band continues to try and make something different with each record, which they have done since their 2014 record, Real and they kept that promise still with, MONOMANIA. A major factor for this record is they went with a different producer than Matt Good, who produced The Word Alive’s last two records, Dark Matter and Violent Noise. This time around they went with Erik Ron who has previously produced albums with Godsmack, Dance Gavin Dance, and nothing,nowhere, to name a few. This album still gives the metal vibe that you know from the band with Telle’s amazing vocal range, catchy guitar riffs, and hard drum beats.
The album starts with the title track, “MONOMANIA,” giving that new Word Alive feel to the music. With the catchy chorus, hard guitar riffs as well as Telle’s hard scream at the end, it was a beautiful first track to the album. “NO WAY OUT” starts with a different vocal range from Telle than you’re used to, if you’ve followed the band for quite some time you’ll notice it easier. It does catch you off guard for sure, but one thing that I believe should be approved upon is how much they went through the chorus in the song, as much as they did.
“SEARCHING FOR GLORY” did give the same vibe as, “NO WAY OUT,” but didn’t give that much of a repetitiveness. What I loved a lot about this track was the acoustic guitar and Telle’s vocals near the end of the track giving the track what it needed to be filled. “ANOTHER YEAR IN THE SHADOWS” is that song you hear on most records that is the ‘arena rock’ type song, but for myself, I always love those type of songs and Telle used his entire vocal range on this track. “GREATEST ALMOST” is a hard punch song with Telle’s vocal range and high tone guitar riffs, but if you’re a fan of, Dark Matter, you will love the tracks, “THANK YOU,” “K.F.” and “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II).”
“THANK YOU” has some guitar riffs that you hear from hit songs from the Dark Matter record, but what ties the song together is Telle’s vocal projection into his screams. As for “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II),” I was very skeptical for the track as I loved the song, “Misery,” a non-album single from 2017. Trying to make a sequel to a track can go great or terrible. I think The Word Alive made a great track as that intro to, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II).” It gave me goosebumps with that hard-hitting chorus and very great guitar riffs within the track. I believe, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II),” could’ve been its own track rather than a sequel to, “Misery.”
“K.F” is a very enjoyable track in my mind from the band. Amazing screams and more great guitar riffs. “BURNING YOUR WORLD DOWN” and the records title track, “MONOMANIA” tie this whole record together. With some of the harder guitar riffs on the record as well with Telle’s passion in his vocals, with another catchy chorus, it makes them great tracks. “COMFORT & CHAOS” is a very different song on the whole record for sure. That outro tied that song together in my mind with Telle’s clean vocals and that acoustic guitar. “I’M SORRY YOU’RE SORRY NOW” sounds like a b-side to something off, Violent Noise. I prefer something new or something with more “grab” than something that sounds like it was made for a previous release.
Finally, it all comes down to the final track, “DEATH IS ONLY THE END IF YOU ASSUME THE STORY IS ABOUT YOU.” A long song title for sure, but they played around with the soft tones of the band and with the fast hard type of song, along with a very punchy bass. “DEATH IS ONLY THE END IF YOU ASSUME THE STORY IS ABOUT YOU” goes full metal closer to the end of the track to deliver one final blow to end it off right.
The Word Alive put together another good piece of work with, MONOMANIA, for fans that thought that the, Violent Noise record wasn’t heavy enough, this record is for you. As this record was bouncing all over the place between metalcore, post-hardcore, and alternative metal. I think for the next record they have to pick one side of their sound, either go full on heavy, or show their lighter side.