[MUSIC VIDEO REVIEW] Skeletonwitch – “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)”

Ohio thrashers Skeletonwitch recently released the creepy music video for their new song, “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived),” which is featured on the band’s forthcoming album, Serpents Unleashed, set to drop on October 29th.

The heavy sound and dark, morbid lyrics of the new song are exemplified through the terrifying storyline of its music video.  The setting of the video is deep in the woods wherein lie a murderer, an innocent couple, and Skeletonwitch.  While Skeletonwitch performs the song surrounded by a circle of flaming torches, the murderer prepares for his next kill by sharpening his blades and building a scythe.  Meanwhile, the couple starts to get comfortable by a campfire, UNTIL…Bandana boyfriend hears something and decides to check it out and leave his lady friend behind.  Obviously, his blood is splattered on the tree as his body is impaled by the murderer’s scythe.  The girlfriend he stupidly abandoned then mouths the name “Steve” and begins looking for him.  She is subsequently chased and killed.  Despite the brutal killing, the scythe-holder had the good heart to bury the couple together in the woods before setting their bodies on fire.  How can you be mad about that?

Anyway, the video was overall well-composed, both in terms of filming and editing.  Also, as you may have learned from my previous music video reviews, the “make it or break it” factor of music videos for me is the balance between the band’s performance and the video’s storyline.  As for “I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived),” Skeletonwitch found the happy medium and provided a tasteful balance of the two main components of the typical music video.

Take a look for yourself below.


[Song Review] The Bloodline – “The Blackout”

Since the acquisition of Divine Heresy vocalist Travis Neal, there has been a great deal of change in the camp of the band formerly known as Dirge Within. Perhaps, these changes are for the better as “The Blackout” is very different from and arguably more enjoyable than much of the Dirge Within material.

There were undoubtedly some great songs from Dirge Within. Having owned Force Fed Lies since 2009, it can be said that it was an awesome debut album.  The group’s sophomore effort, 2012’s There Will Be Blood, was also a solid release from top to bottom.  However, while the Dirge Within tunes were well-composed and very pleasing on metalhead ears, it was somewhat generic. The band’s rebirth as The Bloodline offers a sense of refreshment in a scene crowded with too much of the same.

Judging from “The Blackout,” the loss of original Dirge Within vocalist Jeremy “Jerms” Genske had a positive outcome.  Therefore, depending on personal opinions, long-time fans may not, in fact, miss Jerms, as suggested in this Artist of Week article from March 8, 2013.

This first song released by The Bloodline maintains the groove Dirge Within founding member and guitarist Shaun Glass (Broken Hope, ex- SOiL) has incorporated into each of his projects.  However, “The Blackout” is much more melodic than any Dirge Within song with Jerms on vocals due to both more instrumental melody and more vocally talented clean singing.

“The Blackout” sounds a bit reminiscent of Trivium and Killswitch Engage, which is a compliment more than anything.  The instrumentation is undeniably heavy metal while the vocals hover over the thin line between hard rock and metal.  That is not to say that it would sound weak to a metalhead.  In fact, it is extremely well-composed and offers a strong proverbial fist to the face.

For more on The Bloodline, check out their Facebook page.


Photo courtesy of The Bloodline’s Facebook page.


Artist of the Week [8/23/2013]: The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers are a music production duo from New York City, specializing in remixing the music of up-and-coming indie musicians.  They classify their music as progressive house with an indie soul.  That is an exceptionally accurate description, which helps the listener’s brain to digest the magnitude of precision put forth in the duo’s remixes.

Discard any perceptions that all remix artists are not actual “artists.”  The Chainsmokers have consistently created great quality songs out of other musicians’ material, some of which sound better than the original versions.

The two-person team, comprised of Alex and Drew, is releasing its remix of Fenech-Soler’s “Last Forever” via Warner Brothers UK on September 16th.  As the duo’s latest and potential break-out work, The Chainsmokers are promoting their remix of “Last Forever.” According to Alex and Drew, The Chainsmokers had reached out to Fenech-Soler in hopes to remix the group’s previous single, “Magnetic,” just to learn that it had been exhausted of remixes. Instead, Fenech-Soler offered their upcoming song, “Last Forever,” for The Chainsmokers to show their potential.  The Chainsmokers definitely showed their potential, and then some.  One major highlight is the remixed vocal work after the 2:30 mark, which accents the “progressive house” feel and adds an extra psychedelic aspect to the song.  Overall, this remix is arguably an easier listen than the original version.  It is a slower, less heavy track yet a little more fun and more radio-friendly.

Other key tracks to check out are the duo’s remixes of Smallpools’ “Dreaming” and Phoenix’s “Trying To Be Cool.”  Both tracks are in the same boat as The Chainsmokers’ remix of “Last Forever” in the sense that all three songs are superior to the original works.

I realize that may come off as a very bold statement.  I am not saying that the original songs are bad, by any means.  I listened to each remix and its original piece and actually enjoyed each one. It seemed that The Chainsmokers poured more emotion into the tracks than the songwriters themselves.  The way Alex and Drew altered the songs simply affected the overall mood and tone of the music.

If you think I am not making any sense, listen to each remix and its original song and let me know your thoughts in the comments section here.

For more information on The Chainsmokers, visit their Facebook.



[CONCERT REVIEW] Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake Got 99 Problems But Fenway Ain’t One (8/11/13)

On their second consecutive night performing at Fenway Park, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake succeeded with their promise of “bringing the party” to Sunday night’s crowd.

Opening with “Holy Grail” from Jay-Z’s new record, Magna Carta…Holy Grail, the “Legends of Summer” woke up the crowd from the get-go.  They subsequently powered through Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” and a short cover of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson Five.

After the first handful of songs, the duo started to gradually give the fans more of each song.  Still, they rattled through a lot of material in the joint set maxing out at over two hours in duration.

One of the most entertaining moments was Timberlake playing the guitar on a couple of Jay-Z’s songs.  Until the camera focused on him, no one knew he was the one doing it. At that point, JT was decked out in Boston gear, including a Red Sox hat and a Boston Strong t-shirt.

While Justin was often on the stage for Jay-Z’s song, the acclaimed rapper did not seem to return the favor.  To be fair, JT’s songs do not always have room for Jay-Z to spit a rhyme, which he nailed throughout the night.

Unlike some artists that often rely on the audience or back-up singers to either sing or rap most of their songs, Jay-Z did not really use any of those utilities.  There were points where he spit faster and better than anyone could expect from him.

While the Boston Strong business seemed a bit overdone by the “Legends of Summer,” it still had an impact on the crowd.  The duo really connected with the packed ballpark, both during and between songs.

One last notable highlight was Jay-Z’s smile peeking from behind his microphone.  That was weird and unexpected, especially since his songs do not always provoke smiles, per se.

Photo Courtesy: Boston Common Magazine

[SONG REVIEW] Cage The Elephant – “Come A Little Closer”

The alternative music specialists known as Cage The Elephant are back with a new single, escalating the anticipation to the band’s third studio effort, Melophobia, which has a tentative release date of October 8, 2013, as reported by Rolling Stone.

“Come A Little Closer” continues in the direction set forth by the band’s sophomore release, Thank You Happy Birthday, with additional psychedelic vibes and sound. Lead singer Matt Shultz works some almost-falsetto vocals into his typically gritty style to fit in with the acid trippy vibe of the overall song.

As a fan of both Cage The Elephant CDs, it is exciting to hear new material. The factors that make it even more exciting are the catchiness of the song, the alleged promise of another great album, and the fact that the band is remaining true to its sound yet always trying and succeeding with new ventures.

Give “Come A Little Closer” a listen below and hear the greatness for yourself.

Photo Courtesy: hauteliving.com

[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.

[SONG REVIEW] Ellie Goulding – “Burn”

Despite the still relatively recent release of 2012’s Halcyon and an extensive touring schedule, Miss Goulding seems to have found enough time to record a new single, titled “Burn,” set for an August 18th release.  However, she has posted it online over a month ahead of the release via SoundCloud.

Continuing along the path started by Halcyon, “Burn” incorporates a slight Nicki Minaj-type feel while keeping the Ellie Goulding in it.  This song is catchy enough that listeners may find themselves singing along only two listens in.  It is definitely worth at least three listens in one sitting…or seven.

While Ellie has drastically evolved from the shy, indie rock chick into an esteemed, electro-pop princess, her music has consequently progressed into a relevant, stand-alone attraction with a bright future.

If you liked Halcyon, you will love “Burn.”  Similarly, if you like modern pop music, this is a song and artist to check out.  Listen via the SoundCloud player below.


“Shine On” is the first new SOiL single following the return of original lead vocalist Ryan McCombs.  It comes off of the band’s sixth studio album, Whole, which is set for an August 20th release date.  The music video for “Shine On” was posted online this past Wednesday, June 26th.

While it may be a straight-forward, stereotypical hard rock music video, the footage fits well with the song’s vibe.  While the storylines are a bit choppy, their lack of clarity does not extinguish the intensity of the video.

As portrayed in the video, there are two main storylines.  One contains a man fighting with his father while the other entails a young woman reaching the last straw.  The two stories eventually coincide in a narrow hallway where SOiL is performing.  The fact that the band is performing in such a narrow space seems slightly peculiar.

It does not help with the plot’s quality that SOiL’s performance is more prominent than the two main characters.  One positive aspect is the quick cuts between shots during the video.  As the song is reasonably fast-paced, the video should move quickly to keep up with the song’s vibe.  Therefore, SOiL succeeded here.

As for the song, it is good to see McCombs back on vocals.  If the rest of the new album is like “Shine On,” Whole will pick up where 2004’s Re.De.Fine left off.  It might even be a step up, which is saying a lot, as Re.De.Fine is arguably the definitive SOiL record thus far.

Watch the video below:

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