Category Archives: CD Reviews

[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.

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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.
https://musictalker.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/review-killswitch-engage-come-full-force-with-disarm-the-descent/
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.
https://musictalker.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/review-the-past-collides-with-the-present-on-black-sabbaths-13/
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.
https://musictalker.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/review-alter-bridge-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


[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


[REVIEW] Lansdowne – “No Home But The Road”

Up-and-coming Bostonian hard rockers Lansdowne released a six song EP titled No Home But The Road on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 as the follow-up to their debut album, 2011’s Blue Collar Revolver.

According to the band’s Facebook page, this new EP, consisting of five new tracks and a re-recorded version of “One Shot” from the debut, acts as a music autobiography of life on the road. Lansdowne toured relentlessly for two years, often performing for U.S. military troops at locations such as Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Kurdistan.

No Home But The Road is a response to the consistent feedback on the band’s debut album and how fans wished the material were as strong on record as it was live.

The first track off the new EP, “Burn Brighter,” brings the listener back to 2008 with a sound reminiscent to Shinedown’s  “Sound of Madness.”  The chorus is comparable to that of a Sevendust song. Comparisons aside, Lansdowne vocalist Jon Ricci has a much more easily accessible singing style than those of the aforementioned, better-established singers.

In a similar fashion, “New Day” sounds like a Theory of a Deadman song, but catchier than anything Theory of a Deadman could ever write.

“Frankenstein,” which features Dan Donegan of Fight Or Flight and Disturbed, is the reason that Lansdowne have a bright future ahead of them. Both “Frankenstein” and “Mississippi” represent everything being done right in modern hard rock.

Lastly, “My Disaster” contains all of the elements for a smash hit, minus the F-bomb, which can be easily edited out for radio.

Overall, No Home But The Road proves that Lansdowne have perfected the formula for a successful hard rock release.

MusicTalker’s rating: 5/5


[REVIEW] Revocation Melt Faces On New Self-titled Record

As mentioned on the June 28th Artist of the Week piece, Boston death-thrashers Revocation have kept very busy during the last few years. On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, the band will release its self-titled, fourth full-length studio release via Relapse Records. Revocation is currently streaming in its entirety via GuitarWorld.com.

In the aforementioned article, I reported that: “after hearing the new album’s first single, ‘The Hive,’ it looks like the band is by no means getting careless or sloppy. “  I stand by that statement as Revocation can be placed alongside the band’s past three releases in terms of originality, brutality, and technique.  These guys know exactly what they are doing.

Out of all of Revocation’s releases, 2009’s Existence Is Futile is arguably their strongest record.  Although, each release is strong in its own right. Revocation continues the band’s journey toward gratifying success in the metal world. It may actually surpass 2011’s Chaos of Forms in fan appreciation.

Song highlights include “The Hive,” “Fracked,” “The Gift You Gave,” and the rest of the album.

People say that “the idea of full albums has died.” While that may be true with some musicians, it is not the case with Revocation.  Their new album is a well-deserved, necessary listen from start to finish.

MusicTalker’s rating: 4/5


[REVIEW] We The Machine – “Dissenter”

Currently in the process of emerging from the highly acclaimed Boston area music scene, post-hardcore group We The Machine recently released their debut EP, Dissenter.  After performing at the July 11th Warped Tour stop in Mansfield, MA, We The Machine are sure to break through the barriers of the underground music scene very soon.

One factor that will act as an advantage in gaining continuous exposure is the band’s cover of Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart A Break.”  During an interview I conducted with the band in May, guitarist/vocalist Jace Frenzy spoke of the cover and its success: “It got a ton of exposure from a bunch of different outlets like Under The Gun, Disney, amongst many more…It has close to 50,000 unique plays on YouTube; we didn’t think it’d draw that much attention, but…thanks Demi!”

Overall, Dissenter is a great representation of a successful fusion of pop-punk and metalcore.  The breakdowns are tasteful and the alternating screams and clean vocals are well composed.  Furthermore, the melodies, both vocal and instrumental, are very catchy and easily accessible for lyric-loving fans.  The band’s influences are very prominent, but they are by no means copycats.

Fans of We Came As Romans, Memphis May Fire, and The Devil Wears Prada will appreciate Dissenter.  While the EP’s single, “The Fallen,” is arguably the most easily accessible and potential fan favorite, the rest of Dissenter stands strong and is on point to place We The Machine ahead of the pack.


[REVIEW] Darius Rucker No Longer “Rocks”: “True Believers”

Known best as the front man of 90’s rock band Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker has more recently tested his luck in the country genre.  As Hootie’s sound bordered the line of country music, this was not really a stretch for Rucker’s vocal capabilities.  In fact, his voice is arguably best suited for country music. In 2002, he had released a R&B record, not acquiring nearly as much success as his three country albums have endured.

While 2008’s Learn To Live and 2010’s Charleston, SC 1966 both offered a country rock-type feel, 2013’s True Believers seems to abandon that rock sound.  There is more use of piano and is much less guitar-oriented than the album’s predecessors.  With that said, there are some very catchy songs on here.  The first single, “Wagon Wheel,” is undeniably a great sing-a-long, perhaps in a campfire setting.  Other highlights include the title track, “Lost In You,” and “Heartbreak Road.”  The latter is a prime example of Rucker’s retreat from the rock genre.

Overall, True Believers is not bad, but not amazing.  Charleston, SC 1966 was a smoother-flowing, consistent album with catchier songs and arguably his best solo release to date.

If you like Darius Rucker and country music, feel free to check out True Believers.

MusicTalker’s rating: 3/5

 


[REVIEW] The Past Collides with the Present on Black Sabbath’s “13”

Following the 11/11/11 announcement of a Black Sabbath reunion, heavy metal fans across the globe anxiously awaited what would become 2013’s 13.  This reunion was inevitable after Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler lost their beloved Heaven & Hell lead singer and dear friend, Ronnie James Dio, to stomach cancer in May of 2010.  However, shortly after the announcement, Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy.  Being the heavy metal king, Iommi fought through it and helped provide worldwide Black Sabbath fans with 13.

With the excellence of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know under their belts, it was highly unlikely that Iommi and Butler could top that with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.  Conversely, with the beauties of technology in action, the Prince of Darkness actually sounds pretty good in several parts of 13.  The heavy metal founders clearly came together in the songwriting process this time around.  While it may not top The Devil You Know, 13 comes pretty close.

The album’s first single, “God Is Dead?” revealed a peek into the new material, but did not offer the whole picture.  It could arguably be considered one of the weakest tracks on the album.

Highlights include “End of the Beginning,” “Zeitgeist,” and “Dear Father,” among others.  “End of the Beginning” kicks off the album with a sound almost too reminiscent of the title track off of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut record.  “Zeitgeist” then brings the listener back to “Planet Caravan” from 1970’s Paranoid.  “Dear Father” is a dark, heavy doom song, clocking in at over seven minutes and closing out the standard edition of 13 with flying colors.

13 is extremely well-executed and I was thoroughly impressed with the finished product. Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk was unbelievably great on handling the drum duties, since the Sabs and Bill Ward could not agree on financial terms, leading to Ward stepping out of the reunion.

For Boston area fans, Black Sabbath are scheduled to perform at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on Monday, August 12th.


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