Album Review: Pissed Jeans ‘Honeys’


Pissed Jeans – Honeys
Genre: Noise Rock/Punk

Label: Sub-Pop

Pissed Jeans are a band whose sound is as dirty and self-depreciating as their name, and lash out a ridiculously even drunker and disorderly version of punk that can be traced back to The Jesus Lizard. Despite the noisy nature of their music, Pissed Jeans manage to fuse a good dose of catchiness into their sound. “Honeys” is their fourth album and their third on the legendary Sub Pop label.

The Pennsylvanian quartet have been around for nine years now and have released an incredibly impressive collection of albums so far, especially with their addictive last release “King Of Jeans”. However, there’s a change that becomes abundantly clear on “Honeys” within the first few tracks; the dry sarcastic and dire commentary that was signature to their sound has warped into a more seething and more dangerous level aggression. The band are still easily identifiable, this is not a big change, you’re not not going to recognise this as a Pissed Jeans album, but it does feel a more daring and angsty then previous efforts, which becomes clear with the first track alone.

Bathroom Laughter is an absolute drunken battering ram with it’s rumbling bass and opening drum roll, just before the vocals and guitars join in on the punk goodness. The track just brings forward a side you don’t often see with Pissed Jeans; there’s no sense of parody or joking cynicism but straight-up muddy punk aggression. The second track, Chain Worker, sort of follows suit but let’s up by slowing the tempo down to a hangover inspiring pace. Plus, the track is basically driven by vocals and bass alone for the most part while backed with fizzying feedback. Drums come in only on slamming injections like a fist banging on a table during a heated argument, which adds to the complete poisonous feel of the track, along with lines like “”My chain provides me with safety / So it always knows where I am”.

However, the ending of Chain Worker morphs into Romanticize Me, which sounds like the usual Pissed Jeans with a particularly strong Iggy Pop vibe with its playfulness. Their’ usual sarcasm returns with lines like “So you waited wondering when I’d wake up / When it comes to sleeping I’m a talented man” and the chorus “Take all my faults and twist them in your hand / ‘Til I look like a sweet and thoughtful man / Ro-man-tuh-cize me”, which just inspires you to pull some snotty David Yow moves.

Vain In Costume ups the ante further by pushing the pace faster and an overall catchier sound, especially with the jumpy verse riff.  Simply put, it would fit in perfectly on “King Of Jeans”. You’re Different (In Person) is full of frustration and disgust, sounding like a bad turn in a night full of alcohol, especially with the gravelly moaned vocals during the frothing build-up sections. Aside from the chorus “You’re different in person / I’m different in person”, the track does prove a little forgettable.

Perhaps the downright funniest track of the album is Cafeteria Food, which is just a ridiculously dryly delivered monologue of an office workers despise for his project manager and a broker, and his joy in hearing of their deaths. The lyrics are just jaw-droppingly cruel with the likes of “One day I’ll get a message waiting at my desk / I’ll take the time to open it and feel it remove my stress / People walkin’ round looking sorry / Someone even cried / I’ll be feeling rosy / Because you’re dead, you died”. It’s just so monotonely delivered with the vocals and lazily-strummed guitar and bass, you can’t just help burst out in laughter at how brutally honest and common these feelings probably are in urban workplaces.

Something About Mrs. Johnson is simply a noisey interlude with a demo-sounding riff played going through effects, as well as some Lightning Bolt-esque distorted vocals of ramblings and la-la-las. Male Gaze, like You’re Different, is slightly forgettable and never really brings a catchy or infectious moment through it’s acidic attitude – it feels like something is about to come at you through the whole song but never really steps forward at the opportunity. Cathouse tests the water more, providing a more memorable riff, but again feels slightly ‘filler’ in comparison to some of the earlier tracks, but does feature a pretty neat (and short) guitar solo.

Loubs has, dare I say it, a Queens Of The Stone Age feel with its mid-paced grooving feel: even vocalist Matt Korvette sounds borderline sleazy (with a touch of nonchalant satire) in delivery as well as lyrically. It’s also the longest song at 4.51 minutes long, and does feel it – not in a negative way; but in comparison with the rest of the album rarely reaching 3 minutes, it’s pretty lengthy. Health Plan kicks some spark back into the album with an adrenaline rush of relentless drums and fast guitars, while humorous lines like “Yeah, that’s why I don’t do it / I stay away from doctors / No I’m serious man, I’m not an idiot / I stay away from doctors” being barked at you, it’s just completely entertaining.

Closing track Teenage Adult just falls short of the 4-minute mark and just contains a guitar riff that would, in form of a human face, be the drunken, snarling image of Russell Crowe. The band just pound on at a sluggish pace while Matt does his signature snarling vocals… which is just about it for the track, feeling like a slight let-down as an album finisher.

That said, “Honeys” is a solid release. Perhaps it’s not as fulfilling all-round as “King Of Jeans” was, but it’s still pretty decent. The portion of humour that has always existed in Pissed Jeans’ music has definitely decreased as a result of the bitterness and envy in their sound being more prominent, but the album has its noise-punk bangers. While some tracks can be considered fillers, there’s still plenty that hook you in with a catchy riff and melody or with simply humorous lyrics. Pissed Jeans fans should have no problems with this.

7/10
Favourite tracks: Cafeteria FoodBathroom LaughterRomanticize Me.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Album Review: Cult Of Luna ‘Vertikal’


Cult Of Luna Vertikal reviewCult Of Luna – Vertikal
Genre: Post-metal/Doom metal
Label: Indie Recordings

Cult Of Luna are a septet from Sweden, who are known worldwide yet have a, dare I say it, cult-like following – not one of the first names you think of in post/doom metal, but definitely one of the most praised and respected in the genres. Generally slow-paced, the band never depend solely on their tempo and grumbling guitar tones alone, often bringing in the softer and ambient influences of post-rock into the mix.

So “Vertikal” is the follow-up to 2008’s mighty “Eternal Kingdom”, and is the first album without vocalist Klas Rydberg – however, this loss has definitely not broken Cult Of Luna by any means. “Vertikal” is a concept album (unlike the set-up for the press during “Eternal Kingdom”) and is based on Fritz Lang’s dystopian science fiction Metropolis, released in 1927, while the Weimar Republic was still in in power in post-WWI Germany. Although the film plot is far too detailed to talk about here, Metropolis focused on class differences and distance, featuring an industrial city suffering under a ruler obsessed with wealth.

So you can imagine with this theme in the members’ minds during the creation of this album that we can expect Cult Of Luna to darken their sound… which is exactly what they did. However, electronic influences appear more prominent than ever, contributing to both atmospheric and industrial sounds during parts of this album. There’s also less of the post-metal vibe here, and perhaps more of a progressive sludge sound – yes, the Isis and Mouth Of An Architect comparisons can still be made at times, but a Neurosis influence is far more obvious throughout the album.

The opening track The One is simply an ambient/electronic intro, starting with dull, echoed thuds before a throbbing drone accompanied by soft keys, rising and falling, join in the digital soundscape. Then I: The Weapon starts with roared vocals and mid-paced juttering guitars – the sound that is easily identified as Cult Of Luna’s signature sound. This continues for a while until the guitars fade away a bit, leaving the drums and bass pound along with synthy keys. The band plays with tension slightly, before hopping into a light groove. The electronics keep interjecting at moments, alternating with growling drone lines, the very proggy Isis keys or just a clean keyboard sound. It’s lovely.

Next is the longest track on the album at just under a staggering 19-minutes. Vicarious Redemption is an epic (in the true sense of the word) journey – going through more sections and changes than you care to count. The track opens with a haunting ambient drone while some percussion slips into it; this very sound is enough to send chills down your spine. This atmosphere proceeds to linger for the first 4-minutes or so, before morphing into a lighter tone when soft, reverbed guitars come in, creating the post-rock vibe. It then returns shortly to the darkness before, sludgier guitars coming in sparingly, almost as if Neurosis themselves are jamming with Luna.

This continues for the majority of the song, except for one spectacular moment just over the 11-minute mark that just jumps on you with no warning: ELECTRONIC WOBS. People may very well link it to dubstep (it’s inescapable these days), but it’s so dark and seething (and there’s no “drop” or anything like that). It’s just a wobbling bassline… and it sounds incredibly evil, especially as the vocals roar in some sort of warp. Then the rest of the band kicks back in, and continues as before, but still reminding you of that incredible moment you never saw coming.

The Sweep opens with zappy synths that sounds like something you’d expect from a nu-wave band; this might sound terrible in writing, but it’s actually pulled off well. The track features little to no of the whole band – at least to the point where it’s pretty hard recognise any guitars if there is any. The fifth track, Synchronicity, has a big Godflesh vibe to it with the ringing guitar and the mechanical-sounding drums, as well as injections of background effects and industrial quips – and that’s basically it.

Mute Departure takes a more standard Cult Of Luna approach but after the band has listened to Celtic Frost’s A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh a hundred times. It has the similar creeping, mournful guitars backed by a haunting piano as tribal-sounding drums pound in the background. Eventually the explosion of the band comes, but finishes pretty quickly, falling into a mellower section, and then returning to the same style as the “explosion” part. It is perhaps the most obvious track on the album, but it’s still really enjoyable.

Disharmonia is basically 45-second ambient interlude, very much along the lines of something you’d expect from Nine Inch Nails’ “Ghosts I-IV”; which brings the only complaint that this interlude could have been stretched a little longer, because it’s so soothing and lulls you. But perhaps this is meant to bring you into a false sense of security as In Awe Of suddenly interrupts with low chugging guitars, as louder layers are added quickly. You get these glittering echoed guitars at parts with the rhythm rolling onwards slowly, as well as some big luscious feedback play accompanied by electronics. The vocals are pretty sparse too, making it much easier to lose yourself in the whole thing.

Then we arrive at the last track Passing Through, which starts with the almost lazily picked guitars as clean vocals intertwine, with lines like “All is quiet, empty streets / All is quiet, the city sleeps / Close my eyes, on my knees / And time’s passing me by”; soon followed with twinkling glockenspiel. The atmosphere is just so heavy yet sounds so simple and innocent at the same time. Another guitar and the keyboard joins in, ever so subtly (and bringing a slight Isis feel again), as the vocals simple “ahhh” distantly to the end. A completely fulfilling and enlightening way to close the album.

It’s safe to say that Cult Of Luna have opened 2013 with an undeniable metal titan of an album; while showing no fear to experiment with their sound and to blur the boundaries. “Vertikal” will challenge any long standing Cult Of Luna fan, but not in an excluding way, but more as an eye-opener. The introduction or furthering of influences are far from offensive or distasteful: this is as smooth a change in sound as a slow bend is in a river.

There’s also one thing that’s to be said and that is the vocals are far better on this album than ever before, just sounding stronger and not so strained/raspy. The vocals are definitely an improvement here, and with the electronic influence, they make “Vertikal” a far more enjoyable album to sit through from beginning to end, which has personally been a problem with some previous releases. If you’re a Cult Of Luna fan, then this album should be no problem for you… it may just well be their best.

9/10
Favourite tracks: Vicarious RedemptionPassing ThroughI: The Weapon.

Review by Rich Reviewz

BUY Cult Of Luna Merch HERE

Album Review: The Bronx ‘IV’


The_Bronx_IVThe Bronx –  IV
Genre: Rock / Punk
Label: White Drugs/ATO Records.

Finally, after a long wait for a new The Bronx album (as good as their Mariachi project is, well… we need more of The Bronx!), their fourth release comes to light five years after their previous self-titled effort. The quintet are made up by energetic vocalist Matt Caughthran, guitarists Joby J. Ford and Ken Horne, bassist Brad Magers and drummer Jorma Vik.

They originally started off as a hardcore punk band, with more emphasise on the punk part, but over time the guys have slowly moved away from the aggressive sound of their first two releases. This release sees another leap in the change of their style, not moving more towards punk, but past it, and further into straight forward rock’n’roll.

This is undeniably the catchiest and most accessible the band has ever sounded, but it’s far from a bad thing at all: they pull it off! Matt’s raspy vocals suit the style just as much as his mixture of screams and singing suited the punk style of their previous albums, and his focus on clean vocals here is nothing short of charming.

The album opens with The Unholy Hand at fast pace and the opening lyrics instantly grab your attention “They’ve got you working on the weekdays / They’ve got you working on the weekends too / I know you’re swallowing your paycheck / Like it’s what you always dreamed you’d do”. The instrumentation and structure of the song is pretty straightfoward, and this attribute rings through the following tracks for the most part of the album, but not in the predictably tiresome way.

Along For The Ride has an upbeat jittery riff and Matt sounds lighter, almost as if smooth-coating the overall sound. The chorus is just ridiculously catchy and unforgettable – something you could easily imagine as a soundtrack to a Jackass film trailer, or cruising along to in your car during the summer. Style Over Everything is perhaps the first track that doesn’t strike as a stand-out track despite having a fairly big sound for The Bronx, it just never really goes anywhere, despite being moderately enjoyable.

The fourth track Youth Wasted has a bit of a punk twang to it but stays so light, and with lyrics like “Youth is not wasted on the young”, it has a happy reminiscent feel to it. Too Many Devils sounds like The Bronx unifying the styles of Floor and Jucifer with it’s guitar and drumming, respectively. Again, the chorus is just very catchy. And then Pilot Light changes the pace, slowing it down slightly with it’s stomping verses, and is way catchier than the chorus, almost majestic and obnoxious in its own way that you can’t imagine Matt doing anything else but pulling some Freddy Mercury moves during it.

Dare it be said, seventh track Torches sounds incredibly Weezer-ish at parts due to its pop-sensibility, and while this might make long-term fans want to snort in disgust… well, The Bronx make it sound really good! The lead guitar with its semi-clean arpeggio and the bursting chorus really sounds like it’s The Bronx’s very own My Name Is Jonas.

Unfortunately, the following track is slightly forgettable as Under The Rabbit doesn’t really bring anything to the table, and feels a bit of a rehash of what you hear in some of the previous tracks. Ribcage is another track that has a slight punk feel to it, instrumentally and lyrically, but again feels so light-hearted that it doesn’t have you feeling like starting a riot but thinking about your best summer.

Valley Heat, while again covering the same ground as a few previous tracks, just has this infectious melody that sounds like a sped-up Sweet Child O’ Mine during the verses, without the sleaze. But then you’re given the only downright morose track on the album, Life Less Ordinary, and as odd as it may sound, is really refreshing at this point in the album. The sobering introspective lyrics “I’m not ashamed to say I’ve lost my mind /Been walking backwards my whole life / Some might say there’s a price I pay /For a life less ordinary” grab your full attention with raw beauty. Plus the coughs and low hums that you hear makes the track feel pure and authentic.

Following with the closer Last Revelation, with its up-beat instrumentation, feels slightly disjointed at first considering the nature of the previous track, but you soon forget about it with its carefree attitude and chorus-focused style.

While “IV” might edge close to being overly repetitive at times, it’s near impossible to feel cheated or claustrophobic, as such is the case with bands that fall into the habit of repetition. Considering most tracks on this album rarely reach the 3-minute mark either, you find yourself putting some songs on over and over again for that particular chorus or verse, as the album just flies by when you’re subjected to so many catchy moments with this.

As the aggression that seethed within The Bronx during their earlier releases shrinks further and further away, this is an equally enjoyable album to those efforts. Yes, the spiteful angst is something that made those albums great and addictive, but there’s no reason a long-term fan should find this hard to sit through. Plus if the band is as happy as the music suggests, then it seems like they’re not leaving us any time soon, and that’s something to take comfort in.

7.9/10
Favourite tracks: Life Less OrdinaryTorchesAlong For The Ride.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Album Review: Soundgarden ‘King Animal’


king-animal

Soundgarden – King Animal
Genre: Rock
Label: Republic Records

Soundgarden, perhaps known as “that band that did Black Hole Sun”, left a big mark in rock music worldwide in the 90s in the rise and peak of grunge fascination. Although the band did get caught up in the whole Seattle grunge scene, along with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, etc., Soundgarden had a big southern rock and metallic influence with their dirty approach to rock music.

Despite starting in 1984, it was only in 1991 that they experienced international success with undeniably great “Badmotorfinger”, and furthered that success with the fan favourite album “Superunknown” in 1994. Both albums launched the band to the front of music magazines around the globe, and gave the world rock anthems like Jesus Christ PoseRusty CageSpoonman and Fell On Black Days. However, the follow-up album, “Down On The Upside”, didn’t quite live up to the standards of the previous two albums, although achieving Platinum sales in the US, Canada and Australia. Tension in the band and clashes for future motives and directions of the music then culminated in their break-up in 1997.

This led to a series of new projects for each member; the most popular being vocalist Chris Cornell with Audioslave and his solo career. Guitarist Kim Thayil went an underground route, working with the likes of punk legend Jello Biafra, Dave Grohl’s collaborative project Probot and even featured on the Sunn O))) and Boris album “Altar”. Bassist Ben Shepard worked with another grunge idol Mark Lanegan and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, while drummer Matt Cameron momentarily joined The Smashing Pumpkins and eventually joining Pearl Jam full time.

Many years later, this leads us to now. In 2010, the guys decided to put past disputes aside and have reunited to give us their sixth album, finally releasing a new album “King Animal” in 2012. As expected, pressure is always on for a band that has built its own legacy and popularity worldwide, left and to return well over a decade with new material… and Soundgarden has done well.

The first track and single, Been Away Too Long, a title well chosen, starts the album in fourth gear and borrows a huge influence from Led Zeppelin with its guitar-driven sound and Chris Cornell’s signature raspy, old-school rock voice has aged a little, sounding a little coarser, but this only adds to the atmosphere. None-State Actor starts with a skipping and sliding bass, sounding a lot like something you might expect from a psychedelic stoner band, and is a lot more prominent in the overall mix than the guitar. There’s also the use of an organ keys and the good ol’ cowbell, furthering the old rock’n’roll vibes.

By Crooked Steps returns to a heavier sound that Soundgarden were known for before and features perhaps the most memorable riff; highlighting Thayil’s pretty intricate guitar within overlapping layers. It’s the nearest to their old song that you get on the album, and it’s great! On the other hand, the following track A Thousand Days Before is cleaner, and again its the skipping guitar lines that steal the show; however the rest of it can be a little forgettable.

Unfortunately this is the case for a few songs on the album, either due to forgettable lyrics/vocals and predictable song structures – something that Soundgarden had previously been known for being experimental in. Blood On The Valley turns out to be the prime example of this; just being a tad monotonous with its slow jam approach, and while it is relaxing it is ultimately skippable too. However, sixth track Bones Of Birds turns it around completely, despite being another slow song. The slightly distorted, lethargic guitars along with Cornell’s vocals creates a nice mellow yet thoughtful atmosphere that really grabs your attention without trying.

Taree continues the ballad section of the album, but dips back to the same dryness of  Blood On The Valley, which is disappointing considering the heavy feel of Bones Of Birds. Thankfully, Attrition picks up the pace of the album again with a seductive ZZ Top-like groove, Cornell’s vocals floating soothingly over the top of the driving instrumental. Black Saturday sees the band mostly acoustic, and it hooks you in with opening’s bongos and lines “Promise something / Kill me right away if I start to get slow / Don’t remember / How to separate the worm from the apple / Don’t wait ’til tomorrow”. Although the subject matter sounds dark, the delivery of it feels nothing but enlightening; easily making up for the previous dud tracks.

Then Halfway There is probably the most up-beat sounding song on the album, especially with lines like “Sometimes when you’re shooting an arrow it can fly across the sky so proud”. The guitar tone that appeared on their hit Black Hole Sun also emerges on this track, which works well with the reminiscent feel of the track. Tenth track Worse Dreams opens with low guitar sweeps as a lead drones on top; soon drums and the bass comes in with Cornell coming in last, slowly swelling into big rockin’ chorus. The track just has a real playful feel to it.

Eyelid’s Mouth starts off mellow with guitar effects and a jamming drum, before the the guitar settles into a lead groove backed by the bass, with backing vocals supporting Cornell on “Who let the water run down / Who let the river run dry” – making the track brooding yet enjoyable. The final track, Rowing, stands out in comparison with the rest of the album and an odd choice for a closer: the drums have an electronic yet live feel to them, with a low, fast-rolling bass (in very short bursts) but the vocal melody resonates the blues – it’s almost as if the band are prisoners working on building a railway in the warm sun. The track then fades out the same as it started, leaving you unsure of what you’ve just heard.

Overall, this seems like the lighter direction that Cornell had been fighting for towards their break-up all those years ago, because this album in comparison to the likes of “Badmotorfinger” and “Superunknown” is a big shift to a more mainstream sound; but it isn’t the bad thing. Yes, Soundgarden seem to have lost the grit and edge that made their music so impossible to turn down on “King Animal”, but they’ve proven that they can master the the more softer aesthetics of rock music just as well. Perhaps this is just a sign of the band warming up and cracking their knuckles for the future.

As I said, some tracks do come across as a bit linear and boring, but overall the album is pretty good as a whole. The experimental side is lacking, and again, it isn’t as heavy as some of their earlier material, but it’s a promising return for Soundgarden and certain tracks more than make up for the forgettable. For 13 years of being apart, this is a pretty solid release.

6.5/10
Favourite tracks: Black SaturdayBy Crooked StepsBones Of Birds.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Album Review: Deftones ‘Koi No Yokan’


Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Genre: Alternative Rock/Metal
Label: Reprise

Deftones, a name that has undeniably made its way into the life of a fan of rock or metal in general, for better or for worse. Going through the band’s history would require an essay twice as long as this review will be with all the rumours, addictions and the additions of members as years passed. All you need to know is that Deftones are known for never making the same album twice: constantly evolving their sound into something else with every release… is “Koi No Yokan” a step in another direction again? Yes.

It felt an age since Deftones released anything new, but it’s only been over two years when they released “Diamond Eyes”. Two years prior to the 2010 release, a horrible car accident left bassist Chi Cheung in a coma, and instead of putting their talents to rest  the band continued (while garnering moral and financial support for Chi and his family) with the help of Quicksand bassist Sergio Verga, who makes his second album with Deftones via “Koi No Yokan”. However, music is the business here…

To put it bluntly, Deftones have really managed to pull some astonishing feats on this album. Several songs sound like short soundtracks to crumbling of old statues that have finally fallen from time or stars ploughing into cities that have stood through thousands of years of civilisations; like nature the resetting of a score. Then others are some of the most sincere love ballads with a punch that you’ve heard in years. The overall sound is titanic, huge, colossal and any other synonyms for ‘big’ I haven’t included: it’s just massive.

What’s different? Well, Stef’s toned down the obvious Meshuggah-influenced riffs that appeared often in “Diamond Eyes” and has leaned back to style of the hard-hitters on “Saturday Night Wrist”, and it seems that Sergio’s presence is a lot more prominent too, and that his role in the band is a lot more relaxed and creative. Probably the most surprising thing in consideration of the overall sound is that Chino rarely screams on this album – possibly cementing it as the most vocally clean album in their discography to date. Otherwise, Abe and Frank provide their usual attributes to the sound, the former giving his standard powerful and catchy drums while the latter adds keys and moments of ambience to the mix.

Opener Swerve City starts at full pace – no soft introduction, no build-up, just a guitar riff that inspires nothing but high jumps immediately, but then smoothly transcends into an almost drive-at-night soundtrack with its smooth flow and Chino’s alluring vocals. The track just prepares you for what to expect for the rest of the album. Romantic Dreams has an old school alt rock feel, not far from the likes of their favourites Jawbox, and teasingly progresses into one of the catchiest choruses that Deftones have ever penned; which will no doubt have audiences at live performances weeping along to “I’m hypnotised by your name / I wish this night would never end”. Just a powerful track so early into the album that makes you wonder how can they possibly keep the it up.

Leathers starts of softly with some tingling ambience between a clean guitar notes and keys, almost promising a break from the energy of the first two tracks, but then the whole band jumps in and throws a heavy slab of aggressive riffs and generally one of the more metal sounding moments on the album, before dropping into a melodic chorus with the haunting “Shedding your skin / Showing your texture / Time to let everything inside show”. The song could easily have fitted in on “Saturday Night Wrist” too.

Next is Poltergeist, which opens with claps and a rumbling bassline, letting you know that you can expect the same high energy as the previous tracks. In fact, this track feels like it would be at home on “White Pony”, despite the polyrhythmic style of the guitar at parts. Entombed however is the first time where the band mellows out, reminiscing the mood and style of Sextape (from “Diamond Eyes”) with its seductive melody and eloquent chorus, featuring a nice play between synth-keys and drums during the outro.

Sixth track Graphic Nature returns to the aggressive style ,with jarring and slightly disjointed guitars, yet the melody is plentiful. Tempest is the first track to reach to over the 6-minute mark, filled with those driving-through-the-night feeling riffs while mystical lyrics flow over the top, especially with the chorus haunting “Turning in circles / Caught is a stasis / The ancient arrival / Cut to the end”. It’s just hypnotic in its delivery and oddly soothing even with the distorted guitars.

Gauze is yet another track that charges in with aggression as Chino sings warning messages over the top, but there’s no simpler way to describe the following track Rosemary other than if there was a song to describe the beauty of the Universe, this would be it. The sound is on such a grand scale that it feels like it weighs more than the Earth, which peaks with the enormous chorus of “Time shifting / We discover the entry / To other planes”, playing heavily on atmosphere.

Goon Squad, though starting with soft scrapes across clean chords, is full of spiteful aggression – especially with Chino’s opening line “I carve my name across your town when I’m set” and the later “Before we get down you should prepare your heart strings / To cut all the ties and watch the trends begin”. Final track What Happened To You? provides a smooth ending to the album, sounding like a hybrid between the styles of “Saturday Night Wrist” and “Diamond Eyes”, and Sergio’s bassline embeds itself into your memory, as Stef’s guitar sounds more complimentary than being the focus to the overall sound (which isn’t a complaint).

In the end, this may be the most consistently pleasing album since “White Pony”. Every track is memorable and addictive, and there’s nothing that spoils the album or seems out of place in the slightest. Instrumentally, Deftones have tightened the screws since the fairly rough “Diamond Eyes”, and it feels like the band may have been keeping their best riffs and grooves during the last ten years and saved them up for this album alone.

There’s no reason for the hardcore Deftones fan to be disappointed by this. In hindsight, after listening to this album, you might just question what they’ve been doing during the previous few releases, and not because they’re bad, but because you wonder why this album is so much more satisfying than the last few.

It’s been worth the wait.

9.3/10
Favourite tracks: Romantic DreamsRosemary, Leathers, Goon Squad.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Album Review: Muse ‘The 2nd Law’



Muse
– The 2nd Law
Genre: Rock/Experimental
Label: Helium 3

Muse, if really in need of an introduction these days, are the experimental and flamboyant rock trio from the seaside town Teignmouth in Devon. Headed by guitarist, pianist, vocalist and general mad musician Matt Bellamy, bassist and backing vocalist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dom Howard. Throughout their time together, they’ve undoubtedly changed since their beginnings as an intricate progressive rock band to an eccentric pop-rock sensation, and “The 2nd Law” is their sixth studio album, which sees them taking their extravagant style to a whole new level.

Basically, if you haven’t heard of Muse via radio, TV or through a friend in general, then you’ve probably been hiding under Ayers Rock for the past 18 years. While Matt Bellamy is perhaps known as one of the most frantic and unpredictable frontmen and songwriters in rock over recent years, to say that he pushes the limits of being outright bizarre on this album just be a bit of an understatement. Even though the previous two albums, The “Resistance” (2009) and “Black Holes And Revelations” (2006), have been undeniably ambitious, this release outright takes the cake.

The evidence hits you as soon as Supremacy starts, the track features very dramatic and sleazy guitars backed by orchestral symphonies which just screams and begs to be used for a James Bond film’s opening theme. It’s just completely indulgent in its grandiose pompousness and lack of subtlety disregards any chance of taking the song deeply or seriously. Then the single Madness follows, with low throbbing electronics to support the teasing vocal delivery, especially with the “muh-muh-muh-mah-mah-mah”, like a slow song played in a sexually intense nightclub.

Third track Panic Station becomes another track that’s just  a cup of cold water to the face, by being a funk track. Yes, Muse, playing the funk. The song, with its slap-bass and just the overall sound of the instrumentation and vocal style is like what the drunken first-draft of Stevie Wonder’s classic Superstition might have been. Even the delivery of the word ‘imagination’ is almost the same as in Superstition.

Then there’s Prelude + Survival, and in all honestly, it’s hard to really describe an orchestral intro by now because Muse use them so often now and there just aren’t enough different words to use. However, after the prelude, we get the single used for as the official 2012 Olympics song and as that title might suggest, the track is as radio friendly and cheesy as you might expect, with almost cringeworthy lyrics, like “Race, it’s a race / And I’m gonna win / Yes, I’m gonna win / And I will light the fuse / I’ll never lose”.

Afterwards is the sixth track, Follow Me, which changes the pace and is almost like something you might have expected on their “Black Holes & Revelations” release, with Matt’s lonesome vocals eventually joined by growing electronics and pounding drums, but then as it reaches the chorus, Nero’s dubstep production kicks in. The track as a whole concentrates on the electronic influence and is basically the Take A Bow of the album.

Then the following track Animals turn to a more laid-back and mostly acoustic side, a nice break from the flurry of different directions the band puts you through with the previous tracks. The bouncy keys in the track particularly sound reminiscent of The Stranglers’ hit Golden Brown. Plus the lyrics, despite being cringeworthy again at times, features some ballsy statements, like “Kill yourself / Come on and do us all a favour”.

Next is Explorers, which opens up with these tinkly keys and just unfolds into a very Queen-ish sound, being (again) very radio friendly, yet at times almost reminiscing of Radiohead’s No Surprises during the “We don’t belong here, it was a mistake imprisoning our souls / Can you free me and free me from this world”. But then Big Freeze seems to resonates U2′s famous stadium-rock sound, the vocal delivery being very similar to Bono’s, so you pretty much get the idea of what it sounds like.

Save Me is the first of two songs that features Chris taking up the vocal duties, which is really striking to hear his voice leading. While the track is very nice and soft, and probably the first to really feel to have any real emotion behind it, there’s still that unfortunate level of cheese when the it builds, but there are some nice gentle guitar melodies. On Liquid State, there’s a change in tempo, the track having a sense of urgency throughout with bouncing keys and a growling bassline, making Chris take a different approach to vocals, becoming coarser and stronger. Yet, it’s easy to mistake it as a Pendulum b-side, just without the electronic parts.

The last two tracks come as a pair, similar to the last three tracks of “The Resistance”. However, this time there’s not a purely classical link between these two songs. The first, The 2nd Law: Unsustainable, starts with this very dramatic orchestral build with opera vocals on top, eventually a news bulletin is ‘played’ alongside them. Then the dubstep part kicks in. While it’s impressive that Muse can pull the style off with conventional instruments, it’s just not all that interesting or different from what a lot of dubstep artists are doing. Lastly, The 2nd Law: Isolated System begins with quiet keys, then a low muffled dance beat joins in and again has the news bulletin coming in, building the suspense slightly better than the previous track, generating a morose atmosphere. The orchestral involvement here is a lot more striking too, perhaps proving that less is more.

In conclusion, this album is just bizarre. The influences are so sparse, frantic and non-linear that this really doesn’t feel like a Muse album in a true sense; but more like a tribute and celebration of their influences. Despite this, personally, being far from an emotionally engaging album, it seems that Muse just aren’t taking it seriously anymore, and perhaps we shouldn’t either and that music can just be for fun.

That said, to say this album has some life-changing value would be complete exaggeration, and seems like a compilation of tracks that Muse have thrown together to keep fans satisfied with new releases. It’s not a crime, but it seems like Muse are playing around at the moment and your enjoyment of this album probably depends on whether that’s what you want or not.

5/10
Favourite tracks: Panic Station, Madness, Animals.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Angel Dust by Faith No More – A Retrospective


By the time that Faith No More released their album Angel Dust just over a week after my 14th birthday, I was already a big fan. After watching ‘From Out Of Nowhere’ from the previous record on the long defunct ‘Chart Show’ on ITV in 1990 I went straight out and bought it with my paper round money. Little did I know at the time that The Real Thing was their third album and that the band had gone through many line-up changes since their inception in 1981.

Faith No More - Angel Dust

A whole succession of vocalists had come and gone – even a brief stint by none other than Courtney Love in the very early days. Chuck Moseley had been the singer (if you can call it singing) for the first two records; 1985’s We Care A Lot and Introduce Yourself from 1987, but he was eventually ousted due to his very erratic behaviour and replaced by Mike Patton who was then gigging with his high-school band Mr Bungle.

Despite including songs titles such as ‘Surprise, You’re Dead’ and ‘Zombie Eaters’, The Real Thing was very much a lightweight version of Faith No More’s sound – sounding somewhat rushed in places, mainly due to Mike Patton having to write all of the lyrics in the space of a fortnight before recording started. Their much heavier sound came to the fore with 1992’s Angel Dust.

The first thing that strikes you when the album begins is Patton’s voice. If you had heard the previous record then you could be forgiven for thinking that the band had decided to ditch another vocalist. But this wasn’t the case, Patton had re-invented himself (as he has numerous times since) and the days of bicycle short-wearing tomfoolery were over; his voice seemed to have dropped for a second time in between records. What Angel Dust provides the listener with is something that the band hadn’t managed to do before or have done since – a collection of near-faultless songs which never stray into novelty territory. OK, ‘RV’ does tend to come very close to the novelty line but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s a rundown of the tracks from the original version of the album (which thankfully doesn’t include their completely needless cover of ‘Easy’ by the Commodores);

  1. ‘Land of Sunshine’ – Like I say, this is where Patton’s vocals come into their own, and this also features an awesome bass line from Billy Gould. The brilliant chorus manages to sound like some kind of ghoulish fun fair with Roddy Bottum’s eerie keyboard riff and Patton’s layered laughing vocal in the background.
  2. ‘Caffeine’ – One of the best songs on the record and where guitarist Jim Martin’s filthy guitar sound really comes good. Always excellent live and brings back memories of a classic performance on MTV where the band refused to let the presenters speak once they’d finished; instead deciding the scream and thrash around for another 30 seconds or so.
  3. ‘Mid Life Crisis’ – Released a couple of weeks before the album, this song (and accompanying video) are the perfect introduction to the record as a whole. Patton’s vocals change from the guttural in the verse to something a little more reminiscent of the previous album. Watching Patton being almost pulled apart by horses in the video is a little unnerving, but that only acts as a reference of some of the material to come.
  4. ‘RV’- …. And so we come to ‘RV’. If there is one song on the album that could be classed as novelty then it’s this one. It’s a great song in itself however, with Patton playing a lazy bum no doubt sat in the ‘recreational vehicle’ of the title whilst the band play a little bluesy-country type number in the background before rocking out for the middle eight.
  5. ‘Smaller and Smaller’ – This one is a straight-down-the-line rock song. Towering guitars and powerful vocals. The only difference is that Faith No More, not wanting to be outdone in the weird stakes, decide to include a funky middle eight with some middle-eastern chanting. As you do.
  6. ‘Everything’s Ruined’ – This is one of the more accessible songs on the record without actually being too poppy (despite the incredibly lame, low-budget green screen video). Roddy’s keyboards are used to good effect and aren’t buried under layers of guitar like they tend to be in much of the rest of the album.
  7. ‘Malpractice’ – Ouch. This one is pretty heavy and no doubt one of Jim’s favourites as his guitar is dirtier than a rainy weekend in Glastonbury. Again, they confound what we should expect by introducing a mini dream sequence followed by a sample of some strings from Shostakovich half way through. Patton screams his way through this four minute monolith like there’s no tomorrow.
  8. ‘Kindergarten’ – The weakest song on the album, musically and lyrically but still listenable. But sadly, if there was a 12-song limit on albums I fear this would be the one to make way on Angel Dust. Lazily written and the band just don’t sound like they want to be there.
  9. ‘Be Aggressive’ – Which is why we have this song to thank as being the one you can skip to. This is a fun track – typical FNM funk-rock with Roddy’s keys high in the mix once again. Plus of course the ‘chorus’ of school kids spelling out the words ‘B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E’ is a moment to savour.
  10. ‘A Small Victory’ – Dark, brooding and accompanied by a video equally dark and brooding, centred seemingly around the First World War. A killer chorus and middle eight (which features Roddy’s take on air-raid sirens) make this one of the stand out tracks on the album.
  11. ‘Crack Hitler’ – Another reference to wartime here, but more of a reference to the drug. Not clear whether it is autobiographical of Patton’s drug use or not, but it’s still a powerful piece of spoken word, but Jim’s guitars getting a little bit of pedal treatment.
  12. ‘Jizzlobber’ – If there’s one thing that ‘Jizzlobber’ isn’t then that is subtle. In fact it’s about as subtle as being hit in the face with a house brick. The pleasant night time chirping of crickets is soon replaced with a Psycho style piano riff and some of the heaviest guitars you’ll hear outside of the death metal section of your local record store. Coming in at seven minutes, it is uncomfortable listening in the extreme, but you still won’t be able to stop yourself.
  13. ‘Midnight Cowboy’ – Probably better off ending with the heavenly organ of ‘Jizzlobber’ rather than with a cover version, but as cover versions go this isn’t bad – it isn’t great either, it’s pretty faithful of the John Barry original.

Faith No More

So if you’ve not heard it before (and there’s a good chance you haven’t, it is 20 years old after all) then hopefully this retrospective might give you an idea what to expect!

A big thanks to our guest contributor Ben from the great music blog Ben Likes Music.