Justin Bieber vs. Tool: RANT

Hey guys, so just in case you were doing productive and valuable things with your time over the weekend, you missed a bit of a “news story”. No seriously. Apparently this was news-worthy, given that Billboard and a whole other host of outlets devoted “news stories” to it (which basically consisted of screenshot-ing a tweet and adding in a snarky joke or two).

Anyway, I was triggered by this whole Bieber/Tool situation. Not because of anything that happened here necessarily, but it set me off about Metalheads, Metal culture, Alex Skolnick, and a bunch of other shit I just needed to get off my chest. Below is the full rant:

All That Remains: Victim of the New Disease was AWESOME!!

What’s up guys! Time for a discussion that’s LONG overdue.

Last October, while his band was getting ready to unleash their highly anticipated ninth album, one of my heroes suddenly passed away.

The tragic, untimely, mysterious death of All That Remains shredder Oli Herbert shook the Metal community (particularly here in New England) and, needless to say, added a great deal of dark context to Victim of the New Disease, the ATR album released the following month in the wake of his passing.

Now that nearly a year has gone by, there’s something that I STRONGLY felt needed to be said about Victim of the New Disease. Several things, actually. And no, not just that it’s “AWESOME!!”

In the video below, I walk viewers through the crucial importance of Victim of the New Disease, both to the All That Remains legacy and the Metal world at large. If you’re an All That Remains fan, this is a must watch!

And as always, be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on Victim of the New Disease! Thanks for watching!

June 2019 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys, hope the first half of your 2019 ended with a bang! Mine certainly did. Monthly Round Ups are back and here to stay! Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Chon – Chon (Instrumental) 

Full-length number three from this virtuosic instrumental four-piece has completely reinvigorated my love for instrumental music. Chon’s entrancing blend of rock, jazz, and prog (among other influences) has inspired me to revisit brilliant records in my collection from Pat Metheny, Marty Friedman, and Steve Vai – records whose greatness, dare I say, Chon’s self-titled effort deserves mention alongside. Must-listen for guitar nerds and prog fans alike. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Meg Mac – Hope (Singer/Songwriter)

Australian singer/songwriter Meg Mac impressed me once again with this little seven-track mini-album. Her voice is powerful, versatile, and has me constantly wondering why massive success in the US has eluded her thus far. Particular highlights include “Head Away” and the dramatic title cut. RECOMMENDED.

X Ambassadors – Orion (Alternative)

You really have to TRY to make music this bad. I was appalled at the bland genericism of Orion, a batch of throwaway Alt tunes that makes Imagine Dragons appear bold and progressive. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Baroness – Gold & Grey (Metal)

One of Metal’s critical darlings did it again with this double album – album number five in Baroness’ color-themed series of releases. The music Baroness make is often more Hard Rock than Metal, actually – frontman John Baizley’s gruff melodic vocals and gritty down-tuned guitar riffs occupy a similar crossover territory to fellow Georgians Mastodon. I particularly enjoyed the numerous instrumental interludes sprinkled throughout this track list. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Hate – Auric Gates of Veles (Metal)

More devastating Blackened Death Metal from Polish giants Hate (known to some as “the other Behemoth”). While I don’t find myself having the same visceral reaction that I did to 2017’s Tremendum, Hate’s suffocating instrumentation and sinister aesthetic continues to draw me in. RECOMMENDED.

Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings (Pop)

Wow! Quite pleasantly surprised by this highly collaborative LP from Pop producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson. I really expected to hate this. But Ronson is no DJ Khaled – that is to say, a “curator” who cobbles together records through a very “forced” combination of guests – but rather, a producer and co-writer with a vision here. The title track, “True Blue”, “Don’t Leave Me Lonely”, “Pieces of Us”, and even the Miley Cyrus-featuring “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”, are all highlights here. RECOMMENDED.

Lil Nas X – 7 EP (Hip-Hop)

An even bigger surprise was actually ENJOYING this EP from Lil’ Nas X, the 20-year-old rapper responsible for the Country-Rap Internet smash “Old Town Road”. Though he still feels like a novelty and his longevity is certainly still appropriate to be questioned, Lil’ Nas X holds his own on these seven songs. Particularly fond of the Cardi B-assisted “Rodeo” and the Rock-influenced “F9mily”. The jury’s still out on this kid but I’m gonna give him a chance! RECOMMENDED.

Mannequin Pussy – Patience (Alternative)

My favorite record of the month. And “Drunk II” is my favorite song of the month. SO much to love about this punk-infused alternative band! And their Epitaph Records debut will hopefully introduce front-woman Marisa Dabice in particular as the force of nature that the band’s underground fans have always known her to be. Producer Will Yip’s fuzzy-yet-polished approach works wonders here as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

A FEW MORE:

Like:

The Black Keys – Let’s Rock (Alternative)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana (Hip-Hop)

Goldlink – Diaspora (Hip-Hop)

Pryda – Pryda 15 Vol 1 (Dance)

The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger (Rock)

 

Dislike:

Enthroned – Cold Black Suns

Gucci Mane – Delusions of Grandeur

Killswitch Engage – Unleashed Track Review

What’s up guys! Brand new track review for ya today!

So as of this week, Massachusetts Metalcore veterans Killswitch Engage have officially announced album number eight (and album number three since original vocalist Jesse Leach rejoined the band). It’s titled Atonement (yes, like the killer Immolation album from two years ago), and it’s coming later this summer! The LP will feature guest appearances from Testament frontman Chuck Billy (which I’m especially curious to hear!), and none other than former KSE singer Howard Jones.

And on Tuesday, Killswitch kicked off the rollout for Atonement by unveiling its lead single and opening track, “Unleashed”. Being the longtime Killswitch listener that I am, I couldn’t resist chiming in, offering my thoughts on the song, and making more jokes at the expense of the band’s awful 2009 self-titled record, which happens to turn ten years old this Sunday.

Atonement will drop August 16th via Metal Blade Records. In other words, in 51 days. Mark your calendars and look out for my full review! In the meantime, here are my thoughts on “Unleashed”:

 

Top 15 Favorite Songs: Q2 2019

Hey guys! Another quarter of a year has (almost) passed us by. If I were running a Fortune 500 company, I might refer to it as a “fiscal quarter”, but I’m writing a relatively anonymous music blog, so something about the word “fiscal” just doesn’t feel appropriate….

But it’s a quarter of the year nonetheless! And with each quarter of a year that inches me closer and closer to my impending doom, I celebrate on my YouTube channel with a list of my Top 15 Favorite Songs of the past few months. These lists deliberately exclude Metal, as it’s all about shining a light on the broad spectrum of tunes that have been soundtracking my life.

And I’m not sure i’ve ever been more proud of one of these lists. This fucking group of songs (which I spent a surprising amount of time narrowing down) has it all: EDM, Pop, Indie Rock, Hip-Hop, R & B, Instrumental music – you name it, it’s here.

Be sure to check out the accompanying Spotify playlist – complete with 10 additional honorable mentions – here. Full video below. Thanks for watching!

The Most Underrated Cannibal Corpse Song!

So the other day I’m in my car raging to Cannibal Corpse’s murderous 1994 classic The Bleeding, as I often do.

And I’m ripping through songs like the maniacal “Pulverized”, and of course, the ultra-violent “Fucked With a Knife”, and thinking nothing of this LP that I’ve heard a hundred times before. And then, all of a sudden, track five stops me dead in my tracks.

“Oh my God,” I said to myself (100 percent out loud, mind you). “How did I never notice the genius of this song??”

That song is “Return to Flesh”, and despite being an oft-forgotten deep cut surrounded by iconic Cannibal Corpse moments, is one of the band’s finest hours.

For starters, it demonstrates one of the great ironies of the early ’90s Floridian Death Metal movement: for a genre that’s known for upping the ante on Metal’s aggression by playing faster, it’s the excessively SLOW musical passages where the style’s “brutality” truly blossoms. Listen to this track’s lumbering intro riff, sauntering onto the speakers like an axe murderer who can’t be bothered to flee the scene.

And note how, after this sluggish intro riff, thr song effortlessly turns on a dime, launching into a breakneck sixteenth note feel, and then quickly transitioning to a catchy mid-tempo groove that would make Pantera jealous.

“Return to Flesh” is also one of drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz’s most impressive performances, as he navigates the constant feel changes and stop-start rhythms with masterful precision. And I love the creative guitar harmonies, which sound appropriately disgusting and disease-riddled. It’s truly a Death Metal masterclass.

Classic records like The Bleeding are the gift that keeps on giving. I live for unexpectedly joyous moments of (re)discovery like this. “Return to Flesh” just might be the best song on this whole LP, and I can’t believe I let that fact go unnoticed for so long.

 

 

Metal Release Day 6/14: Baroness vs. Hate!

Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to our Metal Release Day Battle Royale!

In one corner: acclaimed Georgia metallers Baroness, coming through with Gold & Grey, the fifth and final installment of their wildly successful chromatic-themed releases, each one more lauded than the last (2015’s Purple even garnered high praise from Metallica frontman James Hetfield himself). Anticipation for Gold & Grey is through the roof – Stereogum even referred to it as a “masterpiece” before it even came out. Relax, guys. Still, Gold & Grey will likely be a contender for many year-end metal lists, and I haven’t even heard it yet!

In the other corner: Polish extreme Metal band Hate, whose Blackened Death ferocity is perhaps only matched by the almighty Behemoth. I reviewed 2017’s Tremendum quite positively, complimenting it specifically for embracing more of Hate’s Black Metal side, and am hoping that Auric Gates of Veles blows it out of the water.

Whoever emerges as today’s victor, just know that it’s a great day to be a Metal fan! As for who this blog will declare the winner….well, my forthcoming Mid-Year Metal list may or may not be a good indication….

Volbeat’s “Last Day Under the Sun” Single

After the one-two punch of 2010’s Beyond Hell/Above Heaven and 2013’s Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, Danish Hard Rockers Volbeat certainly looked poised to fill the urgently vacant “Next Stadium Rock Act” slot. They toured the world with coveted opening slots for the likes of Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch, Slipknot, and others. They won over the hearts and minds of mainstream Metalheads with a King Diamond guest vocal and the ace shredding of former Anthrax axeman Rob Caggiano, and simultaneously grabbed serious market share in swaths of the “Active Rock radio” community.

Then 2016’s Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie was underwhelming and repetitive. No big deal, they’ll get ’em on the next round.

Well, the “next round” is here, in the form of the band’s clumsily titled seventh album Rewind, Replay, Rebound, out August 2nd. And things are not looking good.

Released today, “Last Day Under the Sun” is the second single from the LP and hints at an all-in, spit-shined radio Rock approach. And it’s shockingly bland. I find it amusing that the band thinks that extending the song structure and adding in a guitar solo somehow masks the dull chord progressions and sugary Pop melodies that fill in the bulk of the song. Don’t worry kids, there will surely be a “radio edit” soon.

I’m still holding out hope, though. Volbeat do have a penchant for diverse track lists that run the gamut from borderline Pop-Rock (like this track) to a vintage Heavy Metal assault. But I’m definitely worried that the band have been lured into the depths of Butt Rock by their radio paychecks. They (and many of their fans) wouldn’t be the first victims. We’ll have to wait a couple more months to find out.

 

 

 

Top 10 Underrated Slipknot Deep Cuts!

So a few months back, Metal Injection posted a video where they counted down the top 10 “underrated deep cuts” from modern Metal behemoths Slipknot.

Being the huge Slipknot fan that I am, Metal Injection’s list immediately aroused suspicion. For one, how the hell is the All Hope is Gone title track a “deep cut” when it was the FIRST PRE-RELEASE SINGLE FOR THAT RECORD??

I know. Well, I didn’t want Metal Injection’s video to be the ONLY available answer on YouTube to this (very interesting and fun) topic, so I decided to make my own! Just so another self-important douchebag blogger can tell ME why I’M wrong, and continue the cycle of Internet negativity.

You’ll find the full video below. And if you’re a big Slipknot fan, be sure to also check out my Slipknot Discography Ranking as well as my “NAME THAT SLIPKNOT SONG!” contest. Thanks for watching!

Every Metalhead Needs to Hear This Rap Song!

So I was having a moment yesterday. It had been a long time since I had heard Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit, and I forgot just how damn amazing it was. Now over three years after its release, I still can’t wrap my head around how such a cacophonous, overindulgent, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink musical approach can be so fucking CATCHY! It truly baffles me.

And for some reason I kept thinking about my metalhead friends. How they always ridicule me for my devout Hip-Hop fandom and fail to see the IMMENSE overlap between the two genres (something I’ve spoken about many times on my YouTube channel, and even made this Spotify playlist years ago to prove my point). And then it dawned on me: how have I never recommended Death Grips??

I’m sure Death Grips fanatics can point to any number of Metalhead-friendly cuts in the experimental Hip-Hop group’s catalogue, but there’s no better place to start than the ferocious Bottomless Pit opener “Giving Bad People Good Ideas”. For God’s sake, it kicks the album off with a fucking blast beat! Between the pulverizing industrial drums, MC Ride’s Chuck-D-on-steroids vocals, and the frantic guitar loops, there’s so much for a Metal fan to dig into here. Check it out below if you haven’t heard it!