May 2020 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:

…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother: A RIPPING Black Metal record! It’s sinister, it’s dark, and the production absolutely overwhelms you. In a post-Behemoth landscape where every extreme band feels like they have to blend in equal parts Death and Black Metal in order to make a splash, Cosmic World Mother is a refreshingly BLACK METAL release through and through (with a touch of the symphonic for good measure), and a shoe-in for my Mid-Year Metal list! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Firewind – Firewind: Littered with lazy songwriting and endless cliches of the genre, these Greek Gods of Power Metal have returned to the middle of the pack for me following 2017’s surprisingly awesome Immortals. However, band leader Gus G continues to be one of the best lead guitar players in the business. Despite how mediocre the songs themselves are, every single one of his solos is impressive! NOT RECOMMENDED.

Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo: While I’ll take Freddie Gibbs paired with Madlib any day of the week (in case you’ve forgotten my Bandana love), the guy just can’t miss lately, regardless of who’s behind the boards. I love his commanding flow, his lived-in narratives, and his partner-in-crime Alchemist does deliver on cuts like the jazz-infused “Something to Rap About” and the dreamlike “Scottie Beam”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked – H.A.R.D: As the enormous Slaughterhouse fan I am – yes, I even defend the Pop Rap-infected Welcome To: Our House to this day – it is always a treat to see any sort of fractional reunion of the group, even if it’s just for one track on an Eminem album. But getting an entire half hour project from two members was something I DEFINITELY didn’t see coming! While Crooked has always been the better lyricist of the two, Ortiz holds his own against him, and these eight tracks fly by with a heartbreaking quickness. The surprisingly hooky “Get Ya Money” and the moving closer “Memorial Day” are particular highlights. Hope to hear more from these two! RECOMMENDED.

Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t: Kehlani literally has no other subject matter besides racy sexual encounters and failed relationships, does she? Seriously, even 2014 Lil’ Wayne had more to talk about than she does on here. But the lyrics are my only complaint about this otherwise smooth, sexy, collection of bedtime jams driven home by one Kehlani Parrish’s agile pipes. Her 2019 mixtape While We Wait was one of my favorite R & B projects of the year and this one will likely wind up in a similar spot for me by December. Still giving it some time to sink in. RECOMMENDED. 

Lady GaGa – Chromatica: As a Metal commentator, it’s difficult for me to discuss Lady GaGa without my words being misinterpreted as coated in all sorts of irony, but the truth is, I’ve been a non-ironic follower of GaGa for over 10 years . And that being said, Chromatica is easily her best record since her debut. A lazy but appropriate comparison here is to Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor – a wholehearted latter-career embrace of Dance-Pop but with subtly meaningful lyricism. The difference, of course, is that much of GaGa’s past music has been classifiably Dance-Pop, but Chromatica is the first time she’s gone “all in” on the genre for an entire LP. And she could not be a better fit vocally as she alternates between a playful monotone and a powerhouse singing voice over these upbeat EDM tracks, many of them produced by titans of the genre like Madeon, Skrillex, and Sebastian Ingrosso. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Moby – All Visible Objects:  Electronic music’s favorite vegan returns with yet another evolution following 2019’s aptly named Long Ambients 2. The production on All Visible Objects does slow to a crawl by the end of the LP, but the bulk of the material here is invigorated, slap-happy, in-your-face EDM with an unyielding knack for atmosphere amidst all the noise. Some of the afterglow of my first listen has worn off, but I’ve still been returning to it quite a bit. RECOMMENDED.

Paradise Lost – Obsidian: The ultimate album for “grey days”, Obsidian finds these English Doom Metal pioneers continuing to build on their legacy after over thirty years. Nick Holmes’ mesmerizing baritone commands your attention on sharp-shooters like “Ghosts”, but it’s his harsh vocals that clear the path for the Agalloch-esque “Serenity” and the lumbering Death-Doom closer “Ravenghast”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Enjoyed

Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now (Pop)

Hayley Williams – Petals for Armor (Pop)

Havok – V (Metal)

Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (Alternative)

The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form (Alternative)

Didn’t Enjoy

Asking Alexandria – House on Fire (Rock)

Kygo – Golden Hour (Dance)

Vader – Solitude in Madness (Metal)

 

Trivium – What the Dead Men Say Album Review

What’s up guys! Time for one of my biggest reviews of 2020.

As I’ve talked about here and here and here and demonstrated here and here, Trivium’s music has been a big part of my time for a long time.

After what I’ve deemed a “latter career revitalization” with 2017’s excellent The Sin and the Sentence, I was curious to see if the band could continue the momentum with this one.

As it turns out, I’ve taken quite an unpopular position on this record, which is always fun! Check out the full review here:

 

Trivium: Top 10 Deep Cuts!

What’s up guys! Ahead of the release of Trivium’s ninth album What the Dead Men Say next Friday, I decided to dive headfirst into the Trivium catalogue for another “Deep Cuts” video.

I did this with Slipknot and then Avenged Sevenfold and had an absolute blast both times, so I figured why not with Trivium too? But since Trivium have been so good to their fans in terms of keeping their live setlists interesting and always playing under-appreciated songs, I had to switch up the criteria this time for what exactly a “deep cut” is, which will likely spark some lively debate in and of itself.

But I’m super proud of this list I’ve put together – it runs the gamut of the band’s near 20-year career and serves as a great warmup for my forthcoming What the Dead Men Say review. Check out the full video below:

Top 15 Favorite Songs: Q1 2020

What’s up guys! First of four of these bad boys for 2020. Can you believe we’re already over 25 percent through the year? I know this COVID shit has put quite a damper on things as of late, but I personally had a fantastic quarter – personally, professionally, and of course, musically!

There’s been ton of great music to get excited about . Hip-Hop in particular is already having a better year than 2019, which was a significantly below average year for the genre, at least from where I was sitting.

Artists discussed in this installment include: Jay Electronica, Pet Shop Boys, Grimes, Joywave & more! And be sure to check out the accompanying Spotify playlist for honorable mentions!

Code Orange – Underneath Album Review

You knew I couldn’t let this one go unreviewed!

Three years ago, Code Orange wowed every hipster music critic on planet Earth who needed a token Metal band to prop up – but underwhelmed me – with Forever. Now it’s a new decade, and the Pittsburgh Metalcore outfit is back with major label release numero dos. Does it live up to the exorbitant Hipster Hype? Or is it another intriguing but directionless mishmash of abrasive Hardcore, tepid Alt-Metal, and sporadic Industrial flourishes, like its predecessor? Full review below:

 

Body Count – Carnivore Album Review

What’s up guys! New releases are really starting to heat up now. Back for album number seven is Ice-T’s Metal band Body Count, whose last record Bloodlust I reviewed quite favorably  – and to this day get more feedback than any other video from viewers who got turned on to the band through the positive things I had to say about them. Which is awesome – that’s why I do this!

The only remaining question is: can Body Count follow that up with something equally strong? Singles like “Bum-Rush” sure seemed to point in a positive direction. But does all of Carnivore deliver? Watch the full review here:

 

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man Album Review

The Ozzman Returneth! Well, sorta.

As I discuss below, Ozzy Osbourne’s 12th studio album is a complete standalone effort in his 40-year solo discography. It doesn’t share the sound of his other albums, it doesn’t share any of the personnel of his other albums, it doesn’t share the emotional messages of his other albums…it’s a truly singular moment for the legendary Heavy Metal frontman.

That being said, is the uniqueness of Ordinary Man a good thing or a bad thing? Considering I haven’t liked a single Ozzy Osbourne album not made in the ’80s, do the Roaring ’20s signal a new era for him? Watch the full review below:

 

AVENGED SEVENFOLD: Top 10 Deep Cuts!

One more Avenged Sevenfold video! That Diamonds in the Rough re-release really has me on a roll.

This is one of the best videos I’ve ever done, and a must-watch for Avenged fans! After much deliberation (don’t worry, honorable mentions are included) I dig into my picks for the 10 best deep cuts in the A7x catalogue. From Sounding the Seventh Trumpet to Diamonds in the Rough to The Stage, this is a comprehensive trip through the band’s discography for their most devout fans to enjoy.

Watch the full video here:

Suicide Silence – Become the Hunter Album Review

What’s up guys! You knew I HAD to cover this one. Three years after the unmitigated disaster that was the 2017 self-titled record, Deathcore leaders Suicide Silence are back and looking for redemption.

After the self-titled LP triggered so much backlash (some of which included the band tussling with their own fans online), I was curious to see how they bounced back. Two potential mistakes they could make here are a) double down on this heavily criticized new direction, or b) run scared and play things too safe, resulting in a borefest.

Did they manage to avoid these pitfalls? Here is my full review of ‘Become the Hunter’:

 

Discography Ranking: Nevermore

This is without question one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done! I take a deep dive into the catalogue of Seattle Metal legends Nevermore, ranking their albums from Worst to Best. Admittedly, #7 and #1 were actually pretty easy to place, and the rest of the spots were quite the struggle! Really hope you guys enjoy this, whether you’re brand new to Nevermore and want advice on how to navigate their catalogue, or you’re a longtime fan looking to yell at me in the comments section over my picks. Watch the full video below: