Avenged Sevenfold – Set Me Free Track Review

Ah, I missed talking about Avenged Sevenfold!

As we await the highly anticipated follow-up to 2016’s The Stage, A7x – likely aware that nearly three-and-a-half years is a long ass time without new music – have a new holdover scheme for us. They’re re-releasing the 2008 b-sides collection Diamonds in the Rough for streaming services.

Evidently, this “streaming version” includes at least one never-before-heard song: “Set Me Free”, originally recorded during 2013’s Hail to the King sessions.

In the video below, I give my take on this lost child of Hail to the King. Did they do the right thing leaving it on the cutting room floor? Is it a worthy track in its own right?

Check out my full thoughts in the video below, and be sure to look out for the streaming version of Diamonds in the Rough, which drops February 7th!

Kataklysm: The BEST Death Metal Gateway

Man, I’m really proud of this one.

As I wrote about for Metal Injection several years ago, “gateway bands” are incredibly crucial to the development of a Metal fan. And as you wade deeper into the genre, there is arguably no bigger hurdle than acquiring a taste for Death Metal, one of Metal’s most abrasive incarnations.

In this video I argue that for Death Metal, there is no one more up to the task of “gateway band” than the Canadian band Kataklysm, who have made a near-30 year career out of standing on the precipice of Melodic and Brutal Death Metal.

For any fans out there who are curious but trepidatious about Death Metal, I take this opportunity to explain how to use Kataklysm’s music to help you ease into the genre. There is also an accompanying Spotify playlist to further help you out.

I hope you guys find this video helpful! In retrospect, Death Metal was one of the most difficult transitions for me as a listener, but my patience up front has paid substantial dividends for well over a decade of my life, and if I can guide towards that same light, I will! Watch the full video below:

Top 10 Albums of 2019: NON-METAL EDITION

And to cap things off for 2019, our Year-End List is the Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2019! Artists discussed include Cigarettes After Sex, Dizzy Wright, Mannequin Pussy, Joell Ortiz & more!

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to anybody and everybody who tuned into a YouTube video on my channel, read a blog post, or supported me in any way in 2019! It means the world to me, and I can’t wait to kick things up a notch (or 10) for you guys in 2020. Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!

Check out the full video below:

Top 10 Albums of 2019: METAL EDITION

Year-End List Number Three is here! My Top 10 Metal Albums of 2019! This was a fantastic year for the Metal genre as a whole. And hopefully this wide range of exciting album I’ve selected – from bands new and old, high-profile and under-the-radar – reflects that. Above all, these lists are always a wonderful opportunity for a moment of gratitude. So THANK YOU to all of these bands for pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into their music and making all of our lives more manageable in the process! Artists discussed here include Allegaeon, Venom Prison, Liturgy, Fit for An Autopsy and more!

Check out the full list below:

Top 5 WORST Albums of 2019

List Season is officially here!! For my first of four Year-End lists, I tackle the five WORST albums I heard all year. Yes, I could only manage five. Ten would’ve just been masochistic.

Kidding aside, this is definitely the most fun and cathartic list to do! I got a lot off my chest. Check it out here:

 

Top 15 Favorite Songs: Q4 2019

What’s up guys! Time for the final 2019 installment of my quarterly Favorite Songs segment, where I pick apart the tracks that have soundtracked my life for the past three months. As I note in the video, this stuff is mostly from October and November, since December was such a ghost town for new music this year! Seriously, unless you wanted to listen to One Direction solo albums or Drake saying the word “ting” over and over again or (God forbid) The Chainsmokers, there wasn’t much for you to check out during the holiday season.

As usual, there is an accompanying Spotify playlist with ten additional honorable mentions, which you can find here. Artists discussed in this one include Cigarettes After Sex, The Weeknd, Yelawolf, Tame Impala and more! Check out the video below and I’ll be back real soon with my Year-End Lists!

Rittz – Put a Crown On It Album Review

Annnnd, our last review of 2019! I dig into the latest LP from one of my very favorite rappers in the game, Rittz.

For those of you unfamiliar, Rittz is a ferociously proficient double-time spitter from Gwinnett County, GA. His first big break came from his appearance on Yelawolf’s classic “Box Chevy” track (off of 2010’s equally classic Trunk Muzik mixtape), and Big Break Number Two came when he signed a four-album deal with Tech N9ne’s Strange Music, inc., for which he would go on to be one of the label’s top-selling artists.

Put a Crown On It is Rittz’s first album since leaving Strange, released through his own label, CNT. How does his first post-Strange music stack up? Check out my thoughts below:

Yelawolf – Ghetto Cowboy Album Review

What’s up guys! Got two more album reviews for you before List Season kicks off.

I gotta say, it feels good to talk about Hip-Hop again. It’s been too long! This LP I actually lived with for over six weeks before recording my thoughts. But in case you missed my Year-End Hip-Hop list on Instagram, I may or may not have already hinted at my opinion

That being said, Ghetto Cowboy is Yelawolf’s first release since leaving Eminem’s Shady Records. How does Catfish Billy’s final music of the decade stack up against the rest of his catalogue? Check out my thoughts below:

 

 

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N. Album Review

What’s up guys! It’s time for another album review, and this week I had some STRONG words for Metal supergroup Bad Wolves. Their sophomore album follows the rapid success of last year’s debut Disobey, which came complete with a platinum-selling cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”, as well as several high-profile tours with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, etc.

Seeing that their lineup consists of former members of bands like Devildriver, Bury Your Dead, In This Moment, and Divine Heresy, yet they appear to be catering more towards a Hard Rock audience, I was curious to check this out. Will they be an important band bridging the gap between Hard Rock and Metal? Or is this more insufferable Butt Rock? Find out in the review below! Thanks for watching:

 

October 2019 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys! Another month, another Album Round Up. Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Alter Bridge – Walk the Sky: Following the acclaimed Metal-tinged Hard Rock of 2013’s Fortress and 2016’s The Last Hero, “Creed plus Myles Kennedy” changed it up for album number six, with mixed results. The uplifting, positive, “zen” (their words) emotional direction of Walk the Sky inspired some thoughtful lyrics, and a profound exploration of existential angst, but the music got a bit “vanilla-fied” in the process, to coin a term. That being said, the band’s experiments with elements of Synthwave represent some of the LP’s notable high points, and hopefully in the future they’ll explore this some more. Here is a full review. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.: I thought this was supposed to be a “Metal supergroup”? The L.A.-based band’s lineup – which includes ex-members of God Forbid, Devildriver, Divine Heresy, etc. – seems to suggest so. Well, I guess not. This is one of the worst and most egregiously pandering “Butt Rock” albums I’ve heard all year. YIKES. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Cigarettes After Sex – Cry: An absolutely mesmerizing second album from one of the very best in the modern Dream Pop movement. This record will become the most indispensable late-night drive soundtrack you never knew you needed in your life. And beneath its ethereal sheen, it’s got quite a visceral and even sexually-charged spirit to it. Getting into this band a few months ago was one of my best decisions of 2019. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Devil Wears Prada – The Act: I could never get into The Devil Wears Prada. Better yet, I don’t think I even gave them a fair shake. Maybe it was the “Christian Metalcore” tag that turned me off as a rage-filed 14-year-old. But as Three Days Grace once told mopey depressed teenagers, “it’s never too late”, and that rings true for me here. The Act is not only downright vicious at times, but the tortured lyrics are something to behold, most notably the haunting portrayal of depression on the single “Chemical”. The crushing retrospective longing of “As Kids” is nothing to sneeze at either. The depth of this record really took me by surprise! RECOMMENDED.

Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave: To be fair, there was no way Insomnium was gonna match the brilliance of their 2016 masterpiece Winter’s Gate, but Heart Like a Grave is a substantial drop-off. Tracks like the plodding “Mute is My Sorrow” and the sluggish “And Bells They Toll” weigh down otherwise excellent songwriting on the title track (which pulls off the impressive feat of carrying essentially one melody through most of the song and maintaining interest), the Winter’s Gate-esque “Twilight Trails”, and the dynamic “Pale Morning Star”. Now, do I hold these Melodic Death Metal masters to an unreasonably high standard? Yes I do. This is still a good record, albeit one that I’ll be cherry-picking from rather than revisiting front-to-back. Here is a full review. RECOMMENDED.

Jimmy Eat World – Surviving: Album number ten from these Pop-Punk legends is a decent, if uneven, platter of tracks. If you stick with this LP for a couple listens, though, you’ll find a song here or there to come back  to. The most paper-thin and poppy material (“555”, the title cut, “One Mill”) disproportionately populates the beginning of the tracklist, obscuring otherwise classic Jimmy Eat World moments that come a wee bit too late on the back end, like “Recommit” and “Congratulations”. But personally, I’m gonna stick to Clarity and Chase This Light. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Kanye West – Jesus is King: I’m not sure what makes me cringe harder, a bunch of pretentious neckbeards hating on this album for not conforming to their nihilistic  worldview, or religious conservative pundits like Dennis Prager pretending to support Kanye now because it conveniently conforms to theirs. The reaction to Jesus is King has been sickening, especially because we should instead be focusing on the following: the songs here are memorable and well-crafted, the displays of genuine humility, modesty, and self-examination from West are as pleasantly surprising as they are inspirational, and the worthwhile values espoused in these lyrics are urgently necessary in a modern society decimated by an epidemic of loneliness and lack of purpose. This is another landmark moment in Kanye’s career. It’s just a shame everyone chose to witness it with their ideological blinders on. RECOMMENDED.

Mike Posner – Keep Going: Shocked at how much I enjoyed this! After – in Posner’s own words – “losing 2018 to broken heart”, Michigan’s favorite two-hit wonder comes roaring back with his most mature, well-written, and satisfying project to date. Notably enlightened, and dare I say “spiritually-tinged” songs like “Amen”, “God’s Lottery”, and “Slow it Down” show that Posner’s complete breakdown brought him an immense amount of clarity, insight, and inner peace. What a delight to hear. Oh, and his lyricism as an MC reaches a career peak on Keep Going as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

A FEW MORE:

Enjoyed:

Danny Brown – U Know What I’m Sayin’? (Hip-Hop)

Exhumed – Horror (Metal)

Fit For an Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts (Metal)

Lacuna Coil – Black Anima (Rock)

Mayhem – Daemon (Metal)

Wilco – Ode to Joy (Alternative)

1349 – The Infernal Pathway (Metal)

 

Didn’t Enjoy:

Gatecreeper – Deserted (Metal)

Gost – Valediction (Electronic)

Wale – Wow…That’s Crazy (Hip-Hop)