blessthefall – Hollow Bodies

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There aren’t many bands left from the crossover period in which post hardcore and metalcore had its disgusting child labeled as “scenecore” or “risecore”. Blessthefall is one of them, and like all bands have made quite a few changes from their opening years with renown vocalist Craig Mabbitt. His Last Walk and Witness were different in a way that Blessthefall took to a less angsty post-hardcore approach, befriending the brand of metalcore that has been made so popular today by their cohorts on the high end of the genre. What Blessthefall has done so well to sustain their success lies within the skill of each member to create an original sound that has become so rare. Hollow Bodies builds itself distinctively on Awakening, and gives listeners the best they can expect from a band caught up in the middle of such a horrible time period for metalcore.

The backbone of any good metalcore group today is a supporting cast that, instead of rallying behind a talented lead guitarist, takes control and does not let the rhythm overpower nor be overpowered by the lead. This is what Blessthefall has done so well in their newest record, and having a guy who can put together songs that sound like his band and not his genre is a huge booster. Vocalists Beau Bokan and Jared Warth have always had some sort of a medium for lead vocals, some songs being a majority of screaming and others with Bokan alone at the helm. Hollow Bodies continues this trend but this time Bokan has a certain tact to his voice that he hadn’t found in Witness and was learning in Awakening. One of the two songs that Bokan has to himself, “See You on the Outside”, happens to be the standout track on the record with a chaotic rock element about it and a fun song structure. Warth’s screams are very talented, but in his genre he is more disposable than a good singer so relief pitching from Jesse Barnett and Jake Luhrs make for a refreshing taste in the later half of the album.

So at the end of Hollow Bodies the question remains, where do they go from here? The answer is nowhere. This is just about the most they can do at this point, seeing as they haven’t made drastic sound changes like some others within the genre who do so to either attract a different fanbase, abandon the semi-mainstream for mainstream, or to play what they had always wanted to as kids. Blessthefall, it seems, is content at the peak of its own genre, where their subjects will stumble upon themselves in struggle to maintain a consistent sound like Blessthefall has done so well. Because no matter how hard they try, the rest cannot combine riffs and the chug/chord formula and make it sound good like BTF has.

Suggested songs: See You on the Outside, Youngbloods, The Sound of Starting Over

4.1/5

1. Exodus
2. You Wear A Crown But You’re No King
3. Hollow Bodies
4. Deja Vu
5. Buried In These Walls
6. See You On The Outside
7. Youngbloods (feat. Jesse Barnett)
8. Standing On The Ashes
9. Carry On (feat. Jake Luhrs)
10. The Sound Of Starting Over
11. Open Water (feat. LIGHTS)

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Asking Alexandria – From Death to Destiny

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When bands like Motley Crue and Guns N Roses were writing their music in the 80s, I don’t believe they envisioned rock n roll to turn to what it has now. Popular “rock n roll” (metalcore) is a land desolate of talent where the well done riff has taken safe refuge under the swift, cruel tyranny of boring breakdowns and tactless chord progressions in attempt to make a hook.  The riff is often mistaken for the treacherous half-riff, which is excused from the claws of scrutiny by teens who think their spinoff post hardcore is better than the metalcore when it is in fact barely different at all. The rock of old is forced to accept what they’ve created which, as usual, is not what was envisioned. From Death to Destiny is the brainchild of a band at the very tip of the metalcore food chain, where judgement is recklessly and relentlessly given. No worse than it’s predecessor, but no better than exactly what was expected from a band who has made their genre so incredibly popular.

Danny Worsnop has gladly taken advantage of millions of mindless fans who have fed his habits and then complain about their “hero” drinking his life away. Stand Up and Scream was woefully the beginning of the metalcore disease, and Reckless and Relentless was Worsnop’s high claims of “moderation” in his alcohol consumption proving to be a miserable failure just as much as his music.  The one upside to his band’s dreary discography is his own singing. No longer a whining scenie weenie, Worsnop has progressively taken to the grit of a real singer to couple with screams that have deteriorated with time. His singing is not always enjoyable on the album, but it is moreso than before because it gives Asking Alexandria more of the sound of a real rock band as they have so aspired to be. They still, however, are having trouble cutting the cord with the dreaded “chug-and-chord” formula completely. Where they do succeed in making complete riffs, they fall into a metal band’s failure of recycling these riffs throughout the album.

From Death to Destiny is a continuation of it’s preceding album only with better singing and over saturation of radio-friendly choruses. They still have yet to embrace full creativity and after a terrible album and terribly boring album (respectively), the musically inclined that even have an element of patience are now losing their own. The album will probably sell very well to the 12-17 age group and be a hit on the billboard, but a failure in the eyes of originality and true musicianship.

2.2/5

1. Don’t Pray For Me

2. Killing You

3. The Death Of Me

4. Run Free

5. Break Down The Walls

6. Poison

7. Believe

8. Creature

9. White Line Fever

10. Moving On

11. The Road

12. Until The End

13. The Death Of Me (Rock Mix)

Phinehas – The Last Word is Yours to Speak

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When in a sub category of an semi-mainstream genre, it’s hard to get recognition even if you are a band with significant talent. Such is the case of California based christian metal band Phinehas. The term “metal” is used loosely, because they surely do not reflect direct influence from groups like Soilwork, nor do they associate with the catastrophies of scenecore like Asking Alexandria. Phinehas rides the thin line between straightforward metal and metalcore. They’ve been around for a while, and after their debut full length,Thegodmachine caught eyes and a momentum-inducing extended play ironically titled The Bridge Between, they hit just as hard as the first effort with The Last Word Is Yours To Speak.

Opening track couplet “Throes-Fleshkiller” fills the listener with adrenaline and serves as strong face level advertisement, with video support included. Each song showcases influence from the few and far between metal/metalcore cohorts of the deceased Haste the Day, August Burns Red, the renounced As I Lay Dying, with riff leads and breakdown rhythms that are mostly beneficial for live power. But for as much of a metal groundwork they showcase with satisfying riffs and some well-placed breakdowns, they construct soothing melodies in forms of verse, chorus, harmony, and full songs worth of ambient beauty (“De El Quatro”, “Dyson Sphere”). The musicianship of Phinehas is an effective combination of fantastic production and a variety of musical influences. They live up the clear vibe of positive christian metal that bands that are so rare to hear actually done well. Lyrics of unending hope and awe in their god are placed within the music and not too odd a contrast of brutality-purity, as neither trait makes themselves disgustingly evident.

Phinehas unfortunately plays into the hands of critics with a certain, though not complete lack of originality. The evident influence from aforementioned metal/metalcore bands is great and sometimes too overbearing yet subtle enough to keep the entire record enjoyable. Perhaps just a bit left in the shadow of those bands, but steadily progressing out into the sun of enlightenment and the next excellent record.

4.2/5

01. Throes
02. Fleshkiller
03. The Deepest Of Graves
04. Blood On My Knuckles
05. Twisted
06. De El Quatro
07. Out Of The Dust
08. The Blessing And The Curse
09. Dyson Sphere
10. Manipulator’s Wire
11. Salting The Mine
12. From A Burning Sun
13. WWII

Desolated – Disorder Of Mind

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When I first heard Desolated’s debut full-length album ‘Verse Of Judas’, I honestly didn’t think much of it. As far as beatdown hardcore bands went, Desolated certainly held a unique perspective at the time; having progressed from a relatively generic deathcore band with ‘The Birth Of Corruption’ to an intriguing and entertaining mix of their current genre and their original with ‘The Sixth Day’; they had retained a significant ‘anti-religion’ aura about their music – both lyrically as well as within their song writing (‘Spirit & Serpent’ & ‘Psalm II’ most notably). But, I was never fully able to embrace any uniqueness about their music; repetitive sounding riffs, the lack of creativity in drums and vocals furthering my disappointment, despite the rabid fan base that the band had (and continue to) amass(ed). However, Disorder of Mind marks a rather dramatic movement away from these themes that have previously defined Desolated’s music and imagery; trading God for the mind and down-tempo for more aggravated dynamics to benefit their sound. The only question left is whether or not this delivers a satisfying and well-shaped release.

An interesting feature on the 5-track ‘full-length’ (I would liken it more to an EP) is that Desolated seem deeply intent on further merging their previous style of ‘The Sixth Day’ with their present attributes within ‘Verse Of Judas’. This is particularly prevalent with vocalist Paul Williams’ use of death growls on tracks ‘Suffering’ & ‘Delusions’ as well as the effort made on the instrumental side of things – resulting in breakdown-sounding sections harkening back to their 2011 days; see the final sections of ‘Suffering’ & ‘Strung Up’ for the most notable examples of this. On the whole, these influences are ultimately beneficial ones; making this release prominent and with welcome variety that Desolated have so desperately needed since ‘Verse Of Judas’. The hardcore aspects remain strong whilst some metal attributes enable instrumentation to develop further at a base level; the use of an opening side-to-side drum beat at a fast pace with double-bass blasting in ‘Year Of The Snake’, the snare blasts in ‘Delusions’ or simply the chord dynamics in ‘Death By My Side’ that add an extra punch to Disorder Of Mind.

The themes of the five tracks aren’t a huge step from their established sound of anti-religion, Paul still uses ‘Hell’ & ‘sin’ as liberally as he can; even when delving into the intense lyrical subject matter of depression and psychosis. Whilst he pulls it off well, it occasionally feels as though lyrics are lagging over into other songs – ‘The reaper’ is featured prominently in the lyrics as well as ‘walking in light’ and ‘in your eyes’, reminding me of ‘On The Cross’ from ‘Verse Of Judas’ & the eponymous track of ‘The Sixth Day’. Unfortunately, to an extent, it feels as though some recycling is taking place on the lyrical front as well as on the guitars’ contributions. ‘Suffering’ holding a riff in its middle verse that seems copied and pasted straight out of ‘Breathe’ from ‘Verse Of Judas’ as well as general vibes of the songs being altogether similar; following a down-tempo intro riff before breaking into  a faster-paced ascending chord pattern verse before reaching the big beatdown finish outro. It breeds disappointment like an obscene badger. However, not every song is like this; ‘Delusions’ retaining a slow but catchy structure that remains memorable; even if songs like ‘Strung Up’ can be forgotten.

Disorder Of Mind offers a solid base for Desolated to build upon with these new and exciting influences that, despite their flawed sides; create the atmosphere of their genre excellently. Desolated are no Fallbrawl in the world of beatdown hardcore but are attempting to be individual, something that I admire greatly. Undeniably, there are relatively large sections of Disorder Of Mind that lose the listener due to their repetitiveness and monotony, but Desolated still achieve the goals of their peers; some moments purely grabbing the listener with their groovy beatdowns and driving the urge to mosh greatly (even if it sparks off the great ‘crowdkill’ debate). No doubt their live performances will retain their high-intensity, chaotic atmospheres; and these songs will fit right in with that mood.

And so, in summary: Desolated have built an alright looking house with Disorder Of Mind, with some nice features; but ask them what it’s made of and they’ll struggle to say.

3.3/5

Tracklist:

1. Year Of The Snake
2. Death By My Side
3. Suffering
4. Strung Up
5. Delusions

Larry and His Flask- By The Lamplight

There’s something magnetic about a band whose music emanates an aura of flippancy, the bands who are more likely to describe recording an album as “a lot of fun” rather than “a lot of work.” Now flippancy doesn’t (and shouldn’t) equate to a poor product but instead simply radiate fun. Larry and His Flask do just that with their infectious bluegrass/folk/punk hybrid By The Lamplight.They have presented us a collection of toe-tapping, knee-slapping, and strangely danceable tunes whose novelty and originality sow seeds in the fertile parts in ze mind which grow into juicy fruits for our indulgence. It’s easy to hear the cohesiveness of the band members throughout By The Lamplight yet the very nature of the songs makes it seem like the music was written on the spot. This bluegrassical example of controlled chaos can, if nothing else, be recommended for a damn enjoyable listen.

By The Lamplight is a unique folk-monster, and a good example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The sheer quirkiness of the writing makes its seemingly inane make-up, bluegrass, country, folk, and punk (I guess) not just palatable, but good. As stated before, don’t let the description of flippancy shape your opinion of the music itself as from a technical standpoint these guys are well….on point. Although the drumming on some of the faster paced songs is quite literally interchangeable, it meshes with the multitude of instruments well and sits perfectly in the mixing. Everything else from the acoustic guitars and banjo to the various percussion instruments to the stand-up bass is primarily bluegrass infused and dammit do they infuse it well. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it very well could make some change their mind about the genre. The mood present in By The Lamplight is its greatest strength. It’s the smoky finger flowing from the freshly made apple pie beckoning you and try as you might, one can’t brush off such upbeat music easily.

The vocals of Ian Cook are another strong suit Larry and His Flask have going for them. Throughout the runtime of By The Lamplight you get the feeling that his folksy baritone is pretty much irreplaceable for this kind of music and for good reason. Nowhere is this more evident than the acoustic opus (and I mean opus) “Gone From You.” The melancholic guitar in combination with Cook’s sad crooning makes for a downright powerful song, and lies in stark contrast to the entire album without feeling jarring. The hooks come way of the vocals more so than the instrumentation and Mr. Cook and crew showcase some catchy, varied hooks using three distinct singers, not just slight variations of the lead’s sound.

Larry and His Flask have concocted one of the catchiest, feel-good albums so far this year in By The Lamplight. The band has a palpable connection so much so one can feel it in their music. This hopefully translates into more success for the band as they certainly deserve it. A little more diversity in the upbeat songs, especially the intros, would do the band well as it can get derivative and bleed together with repeated listens but with such upbeat tunes and grossly infectious hooks, your body will nonetheless find a reason to sway and move along. Larry and His Flask, get in it.

3.9/5

Tracklist:

1. Pandemonium
2. Out of Print
3. Barleywine Bump
4. The Battle for Clear Sight
5. Log, Hearth, and Ash
6. Gone From You
7. Home of the Slave
8. Some Cruel Twist of Fate
9. Justice and Justification
10. Muffled Thrums
11. All That We’ve Seen
12. Tides

Chivalry Is Dead Gives Big Announcement

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From Phoenix, Arizona, Chivalry Is Dead has emerged from secrecy with their identity after spending a number of years in the metal scene of Arizona. They’ve joined up with Powerline Management, K and Z Entertainment, and Matt Good (From First to Last, DRUGS) to soon put out their debut EP. With Good producing and Larry Elyea of Mind’s Eye Digital Studios for recording and engineering, the hype is rising quickly for the young quintet. Along with the news on their EP they released a music video for their song “Uragiri” guest featuring vocals from Matt Good.

Lyric Music Video (by Jeremy Tremp) for “Uragiri” featuring Matt Good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bqy6_Si45Kk

Chivalry Is Dead Band Profile: https://www.facebook.com/chivalryisdeadaz