[ALBUM REVIEW] SixStringNoise – “Likewise”

New year, new email from up-and-coming band.  As with most submissions I have received thus far, Greek hard rockers SixStringNoise seem quite promising as musicians.

The latest release from SixStringNoise, Likewise, was a very enjoyable listen. As their band bio states and their music shows, SixStringNoise are heavily influenced by the “new U.S. hard rock scene.”

It is incredible how this band has fused together so many elements of various generations of American hard rock, not simply today’s scene.  For instance, the guitar solo in “This Time” brings it back to Appetite For Destruction-era Guns N’ Roses with vocals reminiscent of Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy. With a Pop Evil-esque song structure, “Everybody’s Gonna Turn Around” offers harmonies between lead vocalist Markos and backing vocalist Alex B. up to par with how Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde used to harmonize together. Even “Backyard’s Fence” sounds like a Black Label Society ballad.

Without knowing their home country, no one would know that these guys are not American.  SixStringNoise could easily fit in with the U.S. hard rock scene, especially with all of these freshly fused retro hard rock elements.

Song highlights from Likewise include “Busted!,” “On Childhood’s River,” and “Has To Be.”

For more information on SixStringNoise check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and stream Likewise on their BandCamp.


Opinion: Does age matter?

There comes a certain point in life where retirement is inevitable.  Most civilians have to wait until their 60’s before they can even think about retiring from work.  Conversely, most major sport athletes are not expected to continue working past their 30’s or 40’s.  If only some well-established musicians decided to retire from music, fans would not have to turn away due to “washed-up” artists.

Of course, there are exceptions as with any other theory ever logically constructed. For instance, Paul McCartney will be 72 years young this June.  While he may be far past his “prime,” he continues to properly perform to his celebrity level standards, not to mention he put out a solid set of new material in the form of New in 2013.  With that said, his type of music does not require much movement to maintain an enjoyable concert atmosphere.  Sir Paul has also perfected his brand of stage presence without exerting too much energy on stage.  Considering his age, that is a key skill to possess.  No fan wants to see their favorite music idol drop dead on stage from a heart attack.

Continuing with that last point, it is only a matter of time before Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of the Sabbath gents permanently retire, willingly or not.  Ozzy aimlessly bounces around on stage, missing vocal notes and keys in almost every line while performing live.  The Prince of Darkness is not what he used to be, considering how much toxicity he has ingested over the years.  As for the others, Tony Iommi is currently fighting cancer. Geezer Butler seems to be healthy, at least in comparison to his band mates.  In terms of age, all three are in their 60’s and not getting any younger.  It is actually surprising how excellent 13 turned out.  That would be a phenomenal departure release once they complete this grueling world tour.

To clarify, I love Black Sabbath, but they are not honoring their legacy if they keep going until fate takes them.

Another example is The Rolling Stones.  Although they have not been in the limelight recently, that Super Bowl performance several years ago should never have happened. Old Mick Jagger prancing around in tights is a disturbing image burned into millions of viewers’ eyes for eternity.

While “washed-up” musicians may be ruining their respective legacies by continuing until they physically cannot, we should respect their wishes, as fans.  They won’t be around forever and if they don’t keep doing what they love, how will they keep busy? What would keep them wanting to live if not their lifelong passion?

MusicTalker’s Best Albums of 2013

1. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

The studio return of original vocalist Jesse Leach proved to be a successful endeavor and an exceptional release, pleasing many long-time and new fans alike.
2. Black Sabbath – 13

Heavy metal pioneers, Black Sabbath, reunited in late 2011, showing the world that they still have the power after all these years through this phenomenal release and a world tour.
3. Alter Bridge – Fortress

As a band comprised of all of the members of Creed except for singer Scott Stapp, Alter Bridge continue to portray their superior sound, much different from the former group.  With lead vocalist Myles Kennedy in the limelight, Alter Bridge are virtually unstoppable, as confirmed by Fortress.
4. Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP2

The sequel to 2000’s Marshall Mathers LP, 2013’s Marshall Mathers LP2 affirms that angry Eminem is indeed the best Eminem.  With the necessary controversial insults and the use of a variety of rapping styles, this new effort is arguably his best yet.  From the Beastie Boys-esque “Berzerk” to the lightning speed spitting on “Rap God” to the voice-altering style on “Love Game,” Eminem surprises the listener with the vast versatility he possesses.
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[Album Review] Trivium – “Vengeance Falls”

Orlando, Florida’s Trivium have made a point to deliver an entirely different collection of music with each studio release. Coming off the heels of 2011’s standard metalcore album, In Waves, 2013’s Vengeance Falls treads experimental waters with more of an industrial sound. Despite its superiority over In Waves, the new record does not meet the prowess of 2008’s ShogunShogun was easily the definitive Trivium record thus far, showing the band’s full potential in every form of musicianship.  Shogun was a coming of age for the group of metalhead 20-somethings.

Although In Waves might have set them back a bit, Vengeance Falls has partially redeemed the band. As publicized, the new album was produced by Disturbed/Device vocalist David Draiman. The musicianship on Vengeance Falls shows that Draiman probably offered significant feedback which Trivium considered, as several songs sound extremely Device-inspired.  In fact, lead vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy utilizes vocal techniques signature of Draiman in several songs, especially “To Believe.”

That is not to say that this is not original material.  All of these new songs were clearly penned by Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and drummer Nick Augusto.  Each musician excels with his performance, both individually and together as a band.  The dueling guitar solos in “Strife” showcase the capabilities of both Heafy and Beaulieu.  With very few screams from Heafy throughout the record, the lead vocalist is able to offer more of his sharp and clear clean singing within a relatively wide vocal range.

“No Way To Heal” includes both screams and clean vocals from Heafy with a song composition reminiscent of Shogun, thus becoming one of the better tracks on Vengeance Falls. It almost sounds like it could have been a B-side from the Shogun recording sessions.

Other key focus tracks are “Brave This Storm,” “Through Blood and Dirt and Bone,” and “Villainy Thrives.”

Vengeance may be falling for this maturing group of young men, but Trivium’s potential is once again rising.


MusicTalker’s rating: 4/5

[CONCERT REVIEW]: WBRU’s Birthday Bash at Lupo’s (11/13/13)

Night One of 95.5 WBRU’s 44th Birthday Bash offered several memorable live performances.  Beginning with local openers Torn Shorts, the four-band bill proved to be a worthy decision by those in charge at WBRU.

Torn Shorts started the party with a brand of alt rock quite reminiscent to any or all of Jack White’s projects.  A few of their songs included extended jams, which added to the performance quality in a positive manner.

Contrary to the potential bewilderment from the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the next band was an extremely fun live performer.  Their band name suggests that it might be one guy, perhaps playing on the acoustic guitar or using a one-man band body kit. This was indeed not the case and the group proved to be quite energetic.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. easily worked up the crowd and resurged an enjoyable atmosphere.  It helped that the group was clearly having fun performing for this audience full of WBRU listeners.  Besides the energy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., highlights of their set included the songs “Don’t Tell Me” and “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dance Floor).”

The second-to-last act of the night was California’s The Colourist.  This was the indie rock group’s first performance in Providence. The female drummer cracked a joke regarding at least one of her band mates thinking Rhode Island was actually a tropical paradise. In terms of The Colourist’s set, they were able to impress the crowd with their catchy tunes.  They were the right band to fill the direct support slot in this concert’s lineup.

Young the Giant rounded out the bill, hitting the stage at 11 PM. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia showed his full vocal potential on Wednesday night, hitting notes many men should not even attempt to try.  Despite the disappointment of new material overload in their set list, Young the Giant demonstrated their perfected performance skills.  Their energy and positive vibes permeated the audience’s senses and heightened the power of the atmosphere orchestrated by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and The Colourist.  Gadhia also managed to offer a humorous anecdote as he jestingly singled out an audience member “nursing his beer.”  He ended his little lecture with “Man up; drink it down!”

It would have been nice to hear more tracks off 2010’s Young The Giant and perhaps a cover or two rather than the excess of songs from the forthcoming album, Mind Over Matter. However, judging from how those five or six new songs sounded live, this new record should steer the band clear of the sophomore slump and should be one worth promoting over a lengthy touring cycle.

Overall, WBRU threw an awesome show in honor of the radio station’s 44th year in existence.


Young the Giant


[REVIEW]: Kill Devil Hill – “Revolution Rise”

For a band that includes talent from Pantera, Down, Dio-era Black Sabbath, and Dio, Kill Devil Hill do not seem to receive as much recognition as other related “supergroups.” This is slightly disconcerting as this particular group has efficiently melded together the varying musical styles of the members’ previous endeavors. This is exhibited in Kill Devil Hill’s latest release, Revolution Rise.

While the band’s self-titled debut had some great tracks on it, Revolution Rise blows its predecessor out of the water.  It sounds like a glorious hybrid between Down and Heaven & Hell with a large sense of originality, leading to a deeply textured delivery.  Lead vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors) often reverts the listener’s ears to an auditory memory of young Philip Anselmo.  However, Bragg showcases his unique vocal capabilities and wide range in the ballad, “Long Way From Home,” which tastefully breaks up the heavy rockin’ of the majority of Revolution Rise.

Overall, this new release is comprised of good, heavy rhythms, occasional guitar shredding, and catchy choruses. With the speed and precision on the kit, it can be easily forgotten that drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio) is not in his 20’s anymore.  The same goes for bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, ex-Down).  With that said, both musical veterans continue the legacies they have constructed over their respective careers in Kill Devil Hill.

Focus tracks on Revolution Rise include “Crown Of Thorns,” “Why,” and “Long Way From Home.”


MusicTalker’s rating: 4.5/5

[REVIEW] Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Continuing along the darkened musical venture forged by 2010’s AB III, 2013’s Fortress sees Alter Bridge maintain the heaviness throughout the entire album.  While AB III had several ballad-like songs, even the softer tracks featured on Fortress can rightfully be deemed heavy.  It seems as though lead vocalist Myles Kennedy and guitarist Mark Tremonti both brought back some influences from their recent side gigs to enhance this new Alter Bridge effort.  Perhaps, Kennedy’s stint with Slash and Tremonti’s metallic solo album played into the songwriting for Fortress.  Either way, the new songs are all clearly penned by Alter Bridge and no one else.

Tremonti handles lead vocal duties on “Waters Rising,” mixing up the typical Alter Bridge song format.  Then again, there is no real “typical” formula for Alter Bridge’s songwriting as many of their works break the norm, especially on Fortress.  This specific track portrays Tremonti’s versatility and talent in songwriting, guitar work, and vocal range.  With the proper execution of these abilities, this band has the potential to keep on rising up in the hard rock scene.  In fact, with a record like Fortress, there is nothing holding back the appreciation of a hard rock fanatic.

While this is an album worthy of a full, consecutive listen from start to finish, key focus tracks include “Farther Than The Sun,” “Calm The Fire,” and the title track.  The latter two are exceptionally well-written and contain great depth with multiple levels of sound.  In “Calm The Fire,” Kennedy delivers a catchy melody over a heavy and highly technical riff.  “Fortress” completes the journey of the entire album with a detailed musical story of its own.  As Tremonti’s incredibly precise and emotionally-supported guitar solo fades out, there is a moment of pause before Kennedy’s voice returns to close out the album over a heavy rhythm with the song’s chorus.

Alter Bridge have come a long way from being the side project of the guys from Creed.  They have created a household name of their own and have shown plenty of growth and maturity in the process. Fortress epitomizes this band’s talent and potential.


MusicTalker’s rating: 5/5

Lyrical Analysis: “Rap God” by Eminem

The latest track released from the forthcoming Marshall Mathers LP2, “Rap God,” has turned much of the general public against the self-proclaimed “immortal rap god,” Eminem.  This is primarily due to the second half of the second verse of the aforementioned song, where Eminem mentions a homophobic slur while discussing a “little gay looking boy.”  While this bit may be construed as offensive, it is not nearly as insulting as the remark that Drake and J. Cole made in “Jodeci Freestyle” regarding Autism being synonymous with retardation.

To be fair, Drake and J. Cole have since publicly apologized and removed the offensive line from the song. Conversely, it does not seem as though Eminem will respond to the public in an equally respectable manner.  This assumption is supported by another quote: “See if I get away with it now that I ain’t as big as I was.” That line followed Eminem’s recollection of a line regarding the Columbine shooting from “I’m Back,” off of Marshall Mathers LP[1].  The 41-year-old rapper seems to be making a point to show that he still has that inner rage and angst fueling his real rhymes. After all, insults, true stories, real emotions, and the ability to spit a rhyme are what brought him to fame in the first place.  The last element is also clearly exhibited in “Rap God” via his lightning speed rapping about halfway into the track.

The main concept of the song is to show new school rappers that they need to take lessons from the old school.  Between the lyrics and their verbal execution, Eminem surely makes his point and offers momentous opportunities for backlash from the media, the general public, and other musicians, specifically in the hip-hop scene.


Artist of the Week [10/4/13]: Ra

Named after the Egyptian sun god, hard rock band Ra has been around for over a decade. Ra used to be somewhat of a household name for hard rock bands, but have since seemed to go off the map.  They are currently in the process of making their comeback.  Their new, fan-funded album, Critical Mass, is slated for an October 15th release.  The band previously released the album’s first single, “SuperMegaDubstep.”

Having owned all of Ra’s releases, with the exception of 2009’s digitally released B-side compilation, Black Sheep, since 2005 or so, it can be said that Ra’s music is well worth the financial investment.

It is very unfortunate that Ra essentially lost the fame they had gained over the lengthy span of their music careers.  However, it looks like they will fight for it back, and anyone who wants to win a war against the current state of the music industry should enlist on Ra’s side.

Anyway, the band is comprised of four very talented musicians, two of whom have kept very busy during Ra’s downtime.  Lead singer and band founder, Sahaj [Ticotin] released a solo record in 2012, titled Another Minute.  It was much softer and calmer than a lot of Ra’s material.  It leaned more toward singer/songwriter acoustic rock rather than hard rock/alternative metal. Sahaj also acts as a record producer, having recently worked with up-and-coming hard rockers Downstait.  As for the other members of Ra, guitarist Ben Carroll has his own side project called The Hollow Glow, who have seen moderate success among the underground rock scene.

Ra incorporate a variety of styles into their music, allowing for a diverse fan base.  For instance, on “Faulty Information,” from 2008’s Black Sun, Sahaj spits a brief rap during the bridge. They also provide an excellent cover of Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” on 2005’s Duality. With Sahaj’s unique and versatile vocals, Ra will be unstoppable once they resurface.  This should not be a problem, now that the original lineup is back in action together.

Fans of Shinedown, Alter Bridge, and Seether should definitely check out Ra.  Key focus tracks include “Faulty Information,” “Easier Than This,” “On My Side,” “Got Me Going,” and Ra’s cover of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”  The first two tracks are off of Black Sun, “On My Side” is from 2002’s From One, and the last two are featured on Duality.

For more information on Ra, visit their website and/or Facebook page.

Cover Song of the Month: September 2013

Georgia country band Seven Handle Circus has been chosen for the cover song of September with its live rendition of Daft Punk’s “One More Time.”  As stated in the band’s bio on its Facebook page, “Seven Handle Circus is a six-piece Georgia band that has been critically acclaimed as ‘bad-ass bluegrass’ with the ‘drive and energy of a rock band.’”  This description is evidenced by the video of the aforementioned cover, which can be viewed below.

Seven Handle Circus is comprised of the standard rock band instrumental section with the addition of orchestral instruments, such as violin and bass.  In the group’s cover of “One More Time,” the violinist is highlighted with playing lead while the guitarist plays more of a rhythmic role for a noticeable amount of time.

While the lead vocalist’s voice does not sound fully suited at times for this particular song, the banjo player’s counter-harmonies with the lead vocalist/guitarist make for an extremely catchy bridge and crowd pleasing moment.

Between that bridge and the jam session at the end, the last third of the performance is easily the most enjoyable part.  The best aspect is that the band members are clearly loving what they are doing, which shows in the musical output as well as their smiling faces.

Seven Handle Circus conquered that seemingly challenging song in every way.  Watch the video below and construct your own opinion.

If you or a musician you know has recorded a cover song that may be deemed worthy of the title of MusicTalker’s Cover Song of the Month, submit it to themusictalker@gmail.com.

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