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Fear Before – S/T

Fear Before The March Of Flames… no wait, it’s just Fear Before now! Let’s start again… Fear Before has already released a couple of cool albums with an everchanging and ever-improving sound. Let’s take a short trip down memory lane, shall we?

First there was “Odd How People Shake” which pretty much sums it up… twitchy and bizarre with lots of spastic riffs and yelped vocals. Next up was “Art Damage” which already sounded a lot tighter and cohesive. Something they repeated on “The Always Open Mouth”, an album that also saw the band messing around with electronics and incorporating way more layers than ever before.

And now there’s the new self-titled album on which Fear Before once again takes it to the next level. It’s an album that is as intense and brutal as it is beautiful. It has something from everything they’ve released up to this point and on album number four it all clicks and you can hear they’ve finally come into their own. “I’m Fine Today” and the mission statement that is ‘Fear Before Doesn’t Listen To People Who Don’t Like Them” remind of that other essential Colorado band Vaux, another highly underrated post-hardcore band that wasn’t shy of an experiment here and there. Thrice is another name that comes to mind on a regular basis so you know what you’re in for… this album has everything from the excellent to the adventurous and from the bolsterous to the melodic…. It’s all here!

I’m pretty sure this is the album for which they’ll finally get the recognition they deserve!
Score: 8 out of 10

A Hero A Fake – Volatile

A Hero A Fake’s “Volatile” is the latest in a stream of seemingly endless releases that really have no point. Unless of course you’re into generic metalcore and can’t get enough of songs that are built around breakdown after breakdown that lead up to chorus with the clean vocals.

Nothing against these guys because as far as generic metalcore albums go, this one is definitely okay. A Hero A Fake more than prove that they know how to play but come on! Try and come up with a sound of your own instead of rehashing something that has already been done countless times.
Score: 5 out of 10

Rivers Cuomo – Alone II : The Home Recordings

The chief of the Weezer tribe dove into his vault of home recordings once again and came out with a very convincing offering of 19 songs. Not everything on “Alone II” spells greatness though like the instrumental opener “Victory On The Hill” which doesn’t really serve a purpose except to show that Cuomo is not the world’s most proficient trumpet player.

“The Purification of Water”, “I Was Scared” and “I Don’t Want To Let You Go” on the other hand are great songs… vintage Weezer! And then there’s the Beach Boys cover of “Don’t Worry Baby”. And “Can’t Stop Partying” which is Cuomo at his most vulnerable with nothing but an acoustic guitar to hide behind. Weezer fans won’t be disappointed which leaves me with one last question… where’s part three?
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Serious Geniuses – You Can Steal The Riffs But You Can’t Steal The Talent

I’m sorry but the best thing about this album is the title. Sounds a little harsh doesn’t it? At least it does show they have great self-knowledge though! Because yes, they did steal the riffs from the likes of Jawbreaker, Superchunk and a whole lot of other 90s bands but they indeed were unable to steal the talent. And so I’m stuck listening to an album with a couple of cool but mostly unmemorable riffs and grating vocals.

On the few occasions where they are good, they really are good though. “Almost Shameless” has a lot of charm and “Echo Mode” drives on a pretty cool riff as does “Station”. Maybe next time I’ll be convinced if they write more songs like those three and just a tad bit less sloppy but for now I’m gonna stick with my lukewarm feelings towards this band.
Score: 6 out of 10

Today We Rise – Overcoming The Archetype

For the first time in Let It Burn’s history, this German label signed a band based solely on the demo these dudes sent over. Is the label getting lazy or is Today We Rise simply that good?

With Dave Quiggle’s artwork looking at me, I quickly popped in the disc and kicked back to the metalcore sounds of opening track “The Empire Vs. The Mind” which is reminiscent of As I Lay Dying. The guitars are melodic and both the screams and clean vocals are well executed. Later on in the album you’ll hear some Comeback Kid and Boysetsfire influences as well. Hey, if you’re gonna copy a little, might as well copy from the best, right?

Even though Today We Rise’s sound isn’t all that original, they did record a convincing debut with “Overcoming The Archetype” that delivers on all fronts.
Score: 7 out of 10

Sleep Station – The Pride Of Chester James

James Debiak, the driving force behind Sleep Station, once again goes into storytelling mode on “The Pride Of Chester James” while treating us to a fine collection of rootsy tunes. As opener “Hello Mr. Coughlin” takes center stage, beautiful vocal melodies pour out over a folksy rhythm before morphing into some spaced out prog-rock jam. It sounds like a weird combo but it does work!

As we get to know more about Chester James and his pride, we also get to hear more songs where melody is the key ingredient along with Debiak’s warm delivery. “Settle On Your Name” is a slightly angrier track, “Tired Of Me Now” offers a lot of twang and “Paris” is pure pop bliss. Lot of variation here but it all sits together nicely making “The Pride Of Chester James” a very solid release that’s fit for repeated listens.

Hell, it’s a concept album and I like it… doesn’t that alone tell you enough?!?
Score: 8 out of 10

Useless ID – The Lost Broken Bones

I always have and always will be a complete sucker for well-played poppunk and the guys in Useless ID know exactly how to write a catchy yet hard-hitting song which they have proven once again on their latest album.

After three enjoyable releases on Kung Fu which were followed by a couple of quiet years, the poppunkers from Israel are back with a brand new album. “The Lost Broken Bones” sees them taking a slightly darker route both lyrically and musically. And the production job by Jason Livermore and Bill Stevenson added that extra punch which is always welcome. It all works rather well for them.

Other than that things haven’t really changed a lot…. There’s still tons of melodic guitars and galloping rhythms to wade through. Think of that signature Fat Wreck sound a la No Use For A Name and you’ll know what to expect with “Killing A Ghost” and “Blood Pressure” as my personal favorites.

With Kung Fu taking it easy for a while, “The Lost Broken Bones” is out on Suburban Home in the States while Rude Records is taking care of it in Europe.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Bishop – Drugs

Drugs are bad. Bishop is good. So what if Bishop (formerly xBishopx) writes an album called “Drugs”? Still good! Need proof? Pick up the album which is out now on Dead Truth Recordings.

On it these Florida natives are honest, furious and not willing to compromise as they crank out short blasts of thrashy hardcore that I am totally digging. Plus they got some cool artwork.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Sixx: A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to Nikki Sixx’ book “The Heroin Diaries”… the Mötley Crüe member’s tale of his struggle with heroin addiction. The opening track “X-Mas In Hell” finds Mr. Sixx naked underneath the christmas tree with a needle sticking in his arm. No friends, no family… just smack. While Sixx managed to get his life back on the rails again since then, the same unfortunately cannot be said about this album.

In spite of all the string arrangements, piano, a full- blown children’s choir and so much bombast that even Axl Rose let us know he’s jealous, all of the songs fail to stick. Unlike Mötley Crüe’s album from a couple of months ago. “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack” is polished beyond belief yet it never quite manages to hide that it is an average modern rock album that Bon Jovi or Alice Cooper already wrote back in the 80ies.

Oh yeah, the deluxe edition of the album comes with a bonus EP containing 8 live songs.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Warship – Supply And Depend

Francis Mark helped shape the melodic metalcore movement with From Autumn To Ashes, let his 90s emo spirit run free in his side-project Biology and now it’s time for him to tap into yet another part of his musical personality. Warship plays the kind of music that you’d expect to hear on a Hydra Head release… it’s gritty and atmospheric, the guitars are pitch black and Mark gets to vent all his cropped up frustrations.

Along with fellow FATA member Rob Lauritsen, Mark pounds out 10 songs that are either atmospheric or furious, yet always dark and disturbing. “Wounded Paw” even combines the two, starting off in a brooding way before exploding in a torrent of wretched guitars and howling vocals. It’s a moody and fierce album that’s worth hearing but it’s not perfect. Things do tend to sound alike after a couple of tracks. But overall “Suplly And Depend” is a solid debut that gets a thumb and a half up.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Trap Them – Seizures In Barren Praise

In case you haven’t heard Trap Them before… Deathwish. Jakob Bannon artwork. You getting the picture? “Seizures In Barren Praise” is like fucking a crackwhore without protection in a pitch black room… it’s dirty and seedy and equally dangerous.

Sludgy hardcore riffs are mixed in with blastbeats and various other grindcore accents while vocalist Ryan McKenney sounds like he didn’t have need for his vocal chords anymore once he was done recording this album. With the former Unearth and The Red Chord skinbeater behind the kit, there is no way to stop Trap Them. You’ll simply have to outrun them or get squashed. Don’t believe me? Crank open your stereo and play opener “Day Nineteen : Fucking Viva” and watch birds fall from the sky.
Score: 7 out of 10

Jump The Shark – Staring Death

I always thought of Florida as a place where old people go to die but there are some competent hardcore bands around and none of them feature senior citizens. Jump The Shark’s tunes might cause a couple of heart attacks though as they race through the sixteen songs on “Staring Death” with a typical 80s hardcore aesthetic. Only occasionally slowing down to have a drink or whatever, they floor it for the rest of the album which makes me wonder if maybe they need to reconsider their daily dose of Ritalin.

The songs all start to blend together after a while but they’re building ‘em from a fine blueprint so there’s nothing too wrong with that.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Shinedown – The Sound Of Madness

With their third album “The Sound Of Madness”, Shinedown is hoping to finally get a hold on Europe after already having made a name for themselves back in the States. I’m not sure if it will work though after having heard their new album.

It opens with “Devour”, a song that has a lot of Disturbed echoes before going into a chorus that is about as memorable as an episode of the new Beverly Hills 90210. The title track is up next and it sounds a lot rawer which is always a good thing. Unfortunately there’s only a couple of songs like this featured on “The Sound Of Madness” and they are spread all over the album which leaves me wrestling through all the sensitive ballads (“The Crow & The Butterfly”, “Call Me”) which seem to be a necessary evil with this kind of music. Like the chorus in the opening track, they all sound a little too easy and formulaic to make them interesting.

If you’re into modern rock a la Alter Bridge or Breaking Benjamin, this could be right up your alley but for me, it doesn’t really do the trick.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

The Welch Boys – Drinkin’ Angry

Featuring The Blue Bloods’ T.J. Welch and Slapshot guitarist Ed Lalli (here on vocals), The Welch Boys have enough going for them to cause some waves based solely on name recognition. Unfortunately, that’s most likely also where it ends because “Drinkin’ Angry” sounds like a very simplistic version of that other Boston band that used to play streetpunk… yes boys and girls, I do mean the early version of the Murphys.

I know I know… no one listens to streetpunk with the hopes of hearing something original. But this is a little too banal to deserve repeated listens. Also better than The Welch Boys : The Blue Bloods, Ducky Boys, Angel City Outcasts and a whole lot of other streetpunk bands.
Score: 5 out of 10

Lipona – Atlas

From Tallahassee, Florida comes Lipona, a band that very quietly released their debut full-length without the help of a label. It won’t take long before they end up on someone’s roster though cuz their brand of melodic hardcore punk is friggin’ contagious and should spread like a brushfire.

“Atlas” is filled with the kind of songs performed at breakneck speed and which come with technical guitar playing that makes you wonder if the guys from A Wilhelm Scream started a side-project. If you’re into AWS or Strung Out, you should definitely put these guys on your ‘I’m gonna check out these bands because Thomas told me to’ list, you won’t regret it.

Productionwise I’d interested to hear what Lipona would sound like after recording with a bigger budget and some of the songs have an all too sudden ending. But other than that, I have nothing bad to say about “Atlas”.
Score: 7 out of 10
No label

Beneath The Massacre – Dystopia

I still haven’t quite figured if vocalist Elliot Desgagnés is actually saying something once he lashes out in opener “Condemned” or just yawning but by the time I stopped thinking about it, I know I was yawning. I don’t care how technical the dudes in Beneath The Massacre are while cranking out their death metal meets grindcore, it still sounds like complete and utter shit.
Score: 2 out of 10

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy

After having to wait literally half my life for a new Guns N’ Roses album, I think it was almost impossible for la Rose to live up to my expectations from the get-go. But after having heard “Chinese Democracy” a bunch of times I think it’s only fair to say that the result is even worse than I was expecting.

The album opens with the title track which would’ve ranged from okay to good if it wouldn’t have been fiddled with endlessly for years and years. And once the ballad “Street Of Dreams” kicks in, things take an even sharper turn for the worse with the distorted vocals in the beginning. There’s plenty of great moments on here but they are always followed by parts that range from awkward over cringeworthy to just plain bad. “If The World” is a horrid excuse for a ballad and I highly doubt that anyone is still waiting for the terrible Korn impression that Rose gives away in “Shackler’s Revenge” or the r&b-ish (!!!) “If The World”.

Everything on “Chinese Democracy” sounds either dated or overdone after having been filtered, processed, copied, pasted, added, dubbed, deleted and everything else one can do with a studio and way too much time on their hands. When you combine this musical atrocity with Axl Rose’s behaviour of the last decade, I think it’s easy to say that Guns N’ Roses’ reign is most definitely over and all that’s left is a joke that nobody’s laughing with.
Score: 3 out of 10

Seasick Steve – I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left

Ever seen the movie “The Pursuit Of Happyness” where Will Smith experiences the American Dream thanks to a Rubik’s cube? Well, that’s basically the story of Seasick Steve except that he didn’t need a Rubik’s cube. All he needed was an old and battered guitar that lacked a couple of strings but could still crank out very solid blues jams that got the attention of Jools Holland.

The guy’s back now with a new album with a great title and while he’s on Warner now, he has been able to maintain his authenticity. And that’s how come you’ll feel like you’re able to see his America through his songs. It’s like you yourself jumped on a train in “Prospect Lane” and the amazing “Thunderbird” sounds like something that came off off a Left Lane Cruiser album.

Steve Wold - as his parole officer calls him – is a great narrator and has no problems sharing the nostalgic and sometimes funny stories that a walkin’ man comes across. And when Grinderman shows up to back Steve up during “Just Like A King”, you know it doesn’t get much better than that!
Score: 8 out of 10

The Tossers – On A Fine Spring Evening

On their latest album The Tossers are still doing what they do best which is crank out Celtic songs that are reminiscent of The Pogues. They do a pretty decent job most of the time but there’s a fair amount of tracks on here that feel like filler. I’m mostly thinking of the instrumental cuts but “A Fine Lass You Are” ain’t exactly highly memorable either. And why on earth do we need another version of “Rocky Road To Dublin”? But then a track “Whiskey Makes Me Crazy” kicks in and all is forgiven.

Even after a couple of albums dating back to their days on Thick Records, I still don’t know what to make of this band… on the one hand they’re mostly good at what they do yet they never seem to fully captivate me with any of their songs. They just don’t leave the same impression as a bottle of scotch.

If you need a good band to drink to and Flogging Molly or the original drunks aka The Pogues don’t do it anymore, you might want to give these guys a spin.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Driver Side Impact – Lion

I can’t really remember too much about Driver Side Impact’s debut album “The Very Air We Breathe”. But from what little I can still recall it was a little more experimental than “Lion”. This is probably thanks to the line-up changes that took place since (four went, three new ones came in).

Very uninspired poppunk a la New Found Glory with a little Silverstein and Angels & Airwaves floating around in there is what you get. Even throwing in some ambient parts doesn’t improve things much. If anything at all. It seems more like a desperate attempt to have an original sound but fails to hide the fact that these songs are just plain and derivative.
Score: 4 out of 10

Carpathian – Isolation

This Australian outfit sure changed their sound! When their debut came out they were only too happy to go on tours with the likes of Bleeding Through and Parkway Drive to give you an idea. But on album number two, they sure sound different. I guess enough line-up changes will do that to a band. Feel free to compare them to other Deathwish acts such as Modern Life Is War or The Hope Conspiracy and watch it stick.

While it is kinda weird that they switched sounds that radically and while one might be tempted to yell out loud that they’re jumping on another bandwagon, it’s much easier to just enjoy “Isolation”. With tracks like “Ceremony” (featuring Have Heart’s Pat Flynn) or the superintense “Sun Heights”, it’s not very hard.

While not quite as good as some of the other stuff that Deathwish dropped this year, Carpathian did a solid job on “Isolation” nonetheless making this another fine addition to my collection. Anyone care to guess what they’ll sound like on their next album? Poll’s opening right now!
Score: 7 out of 10

Seven Days Later – demo

Seven Days Later are a couple of friends from a London suburb who had previously played in a bunch of bands before figuring they could do a better job when playing together. They recorded two tracks in December 2007, threw in two more live cuts et voila, their first demo was a fact.

Musically they sound like one of those modern rock outfits not unlike Chevelle hooking up with UK’s Hundred Reasons. They’re not quite up to those bands’ level but they’ve got oud guitars, a capable vocalist and a sturdy rhythm section… ain’t nothing wrong with that!
Score: 6 out of 10
no label

Eagles Of Death Metal – Heart On

What basically started out as a joke band between Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme has become an unctrollable hipshaker since. On their third album, the Eagles of Death Metal once again got in their tightest pants, fired up the amps and kicked out that seventies mix of garage, glam and a bit of ZZ Top.

Listening to “Heart On”, one doesn’t really know what to do… do you dance or do you laugh with the lyrics? You have to choose because doing both at the same time looks kinda dumb. That’s pretty much the only choice you have to make though because there’s no weighing down the options whether or not to purchase this album. If you like your rock n roll sexy, pick up “Heart On” and whip out that air guitar while listening to “Wannabe in L.A.”!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Wednesday 13 – Fuck It, We’ll Do It Live

After a couple of studio albums, Wednesday 13 felt it was time to drop a live release. The DVD of the show in Allentown, PA lasts well over an hour and is accompanied by a CD with the same material.

I’ve always liked Wednesday and his blend of horrorpunk and tongue-in-cheek song titles (“Look What The Bats Dragged In”) and because I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the former Frankenstein Drag Queens/Murderdolls frontman live, “Fuck It, We’ll Do It Live” was a pleasure to watch and listen to. From the intro over “Not Another Teenage Anthem” down to “Happily Ever Cadaver”, the mix of glam rock, punk and more B-movies than you can shake a stick at works every single time. It’s a shame that “I Walked With A Zombie” isn’t featured but hell, in the end even that can’t take away any of the fun!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Audrye Sessions – S/T EP

Audrye Sessions is a relatively new band which started when vocalist Ryan Karazija met bassist Alicia Marie Campbell. They then hooked up with guitarist Michael Knox who answered the ‘seeking a guitarist’ ad on Craigslist by announcing he didn’t owe a guitar. You wouldn’t say though from listening to this 4-song EP which is the precursor to the full-length which will come out early next year.

Comparisons to U2 and Radiohead and Coldplay and other UK bands are a must when you’re talking about this bunch who like to start out slow before letting a song go BOOM! in the chorus with guitar licks that sound like early U2 or even horns (“When You’ll Find Me”). Never been a big fan of Radiohead myself but if they were any good, they’d probably write a song like “Awake”. Last one on here is “New Year’s Day” which is kind of depressing but still very well written by a band who has a way of coming up with solid melodic structures that fans of the abovementioned bands are sure to swoon over.
Score: 7 out of 10
Black Seal Records

The New Amsterdams – At The Foot Of My Rival

Album number six (!) for the New Amsterdams opens almost as unnoticed as the actual release of the album with the very lo-fi “Revenge” which has just Matthew Pryor strumming his guitar while singing. It’s something that you’ll come across a couple more times while listening to the 16 songs on “At The Foot Of My Rival”.

But The New Amsterdams wouldn’t be The New Amsterdams if it wasn’t for songs like “Wait” where Pryor sounds as good as he ever sounded. The result is something that the Finn brothers could’ve written while in Crowded House. Unfortunately not all of the songs on here are as good as this one or as “Fountain of Youth” but overall “At The Foot Of My Rival” is yet another solid release by a great songwriter.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Jonathan Inc. – Things Done And Left Undone

Canaduh’s Jonathan Inc.recently dropped an album called “Things Done And Left Undone” which is nearly drowning in a pool of melancholy. Led by Jonathan Anderson, this outfit specializes in the kind of mellow melodies that drift in your ear and stay there for a long time. One song might seem like the perfect companion to a rainy day while the next goes well with the colors of the tree leaves on an autumn day. Hell, it even makes me kinda poetic!

With hushed vocals by Anderson who has a knack for writing beautiful vocal melodies which shine even brighter when enhanced with soft touches of violin, cello and vibraphone, “Cat Burglar” is simply one of the most dreamy songs I have heard all year while “Unbroken Silence” is still waiting for a career on the airwaves with its swelling chorus and upbeat rhythm.

All ye Death Cab fans should check this one out because this is simply put a fine slab of moody indie pop.
Score: 8 out of 10

La Dispute – Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair

With what has to be one of the catchiest album titles of the year, La Dispute has released an album that hit me about as hard as a kick in the nether regions. They may be indebted to bands like mewithoutyou and At The Drive-In but seriously, who gives a fuck when a band drops a debut album as intense as this?!?

Named after an Asian folktale, “Somewhere…” deals with stories about flawed people interlaced with personal experiences. While vocalist Jordan Dreyer screams/shouts his way through the songs with a voice that sounds like it could use a day off, the rest of the band is busy either whipping up a storm or calming things down. Call it post-something or whatever but these 13 songs are every bit as intense as any ‘real’ hardcore album I’ve heard this year!
Score: 8 out of 10

In The Pines – S/T

God, what a bunch of self-indulgent wankers! It’s like In The Pines headed in the studio with a bunch of halfassed whiny ideas, hoping they’d somehow miraculously transform into songs. Guess what? Didn’t happen. So I end up wasting half an hour of my life listening to halfassed whiny ideas that are supposed to be songs.

This six-piece from Kansas City, MI boasts two guitars, a bass, a violin, a viola, a pump organ, drums and five vocalists. So it’s not like they don’t have the possibility of creating something beautiful. Yet somehow they end up with melodies and lyrics that are repeated over and over again up to the point where I wanna trash my stereo just to reach some kind of climax. Not a good thing for music that’s supposed to be soothing and warm.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll ever become a big fan of this band. Thanks for letting me rant.
Score: 3 out of 10

Vultures United – Dirt Hearts

If they still need a soundtrack to go with “Crank 2 : High Voltage”, they should just pay Basement Records a visit. They seem to specialize in dropping one release after another filled with fiery blasts of hardcore punk that you just don’t hear enough anymore. If Black Flag would start out right now, they would probably end up on Basement’s roster. After Bullet Treatment, Killing California, The Insurgence and Stabbed In Back, there is now Vultures United for your listening discomfort.

Check out their 8-song release “Dirt Hearts” if you wanna hear some more intensely insane or insanely intense hardcore punk. It’s just 14 minutes long but the songs on here will resonate a whole lot longer, especially when you keep reaching for that play button over and over again.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Insurgence – Never Surrender EP

While recording a full-length with the one and only Jack Endino (Nirvana, The Dwarves, Zeke, Valient Thorr), Seattle’s The Insurgence had time to lay down a couple of extra songs which you can now find on this EP.

The four cuts on here are short and loud slabs of rawking hardcore punk not unlike you’ll know it from the Zeke albums in your collection. They play their tunes with the same fuck you attitude that we love The Bronx for and generally succeed in thoroughly kicking your ass for the whole 7 minutes and 11 seconds it takes them to race through these tracks.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Killing California – Bones & Sand EP

Killing California is back with a new 6-song EP and on it they do what they already did so well on their full-length “Goin’ South”… play kickass OC hardcore punk with additional rock n roll swagger that sounds as pissed off as a dude leaving a peepshow with his pockets empty and his balls blue.

Balls is something these guys definitely have because I don’t see any of those emo pussies cranking out angry and intense songs like “Blue Heron Bridge” and “Hombre En Negro”. If you’re a fan of The Bronx or Black Flag, don’t hesitate and pick this one up. Wake up people, it’s killing time!
Score: 8 out of 10

Trivium – Shogun

After “The Crusade” on which they sounded even more like Metallica than Metallica now does, a lot of people felt disappointed. Luckily for them, Heafy & Co listened to the fans and have now unleashed an album that combines the melody of “The Crusade” with the thrash attack of “Ascendancy”. Every now and then you get to hear those Hetfield vocals again but there are plenty of clean vocals and grunts to go round as well. Riff and solo freaks, you may continue to breathe… there’s still a shitload of both featured on here. There’s something for everybody basically.

Then how come I feel so lukewarm about this? Because I’ve heard it all before? Because all of the songs are pretty much interchangeable? Because the booklet is just a bunch of ugly paintings thrown together? I mean, I can listen to the entire album without being bothered but it never gets to me.

On the special edition, there are three bonus tracks including an Iron Maiden cover and a 90-minute ‘making of the album’-type thing… might be interesting for the real fans!
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Call To Preserve – From Isolation

Call To Preserve is a five-piece from Florida who already made a good impression with 2006’s “Unsinkable” and are back now with a new even harder hitting album called “From Isolation”.

They don’t play a type of hardcore you haven’t heard before but cleverly combine the best of Hatebreed, Buried Alive and Give Up The Ghost which results in thirteen hardcore anthems that will give you a much-needed workout at one of their shows. Melody and aggression walk hand in hand on this release and even though their path is sometimes blocked by massive breakdowns, they get to sing about perseverance, friendship and straight edge.

Yes, they are on Facedown so yes, they are down with the J-man. But let’s not hold that against them… they’ll pummel you just the same on “From Isolation”!
Score: 8 out of 10

Crime In Stereo – Selective Wreckage

“Selective Wreckage” is the new Crime In Stereo release that throws all the outtakes from “Troubled Stateside” and “… Is Dead” together on one shiny disc. No more looking all over Soulseek for those songs on the never released 7” split with Capital, because those tracks are on here as well!

It might not really be a new album but the songs on here do effortlessly prove once more that Crime In Stereo is a melodic hardcore band that does an awesome job. This will no doubt keep the fans singing along until album number three hits stores next year!
Score: 7 out of 10

Jonah Matranga – And

With his first solo album to be released under his own name, Jonah Matranga is finally getting back in shape. After onelinedrawing’s disappointing last album and the short attempt at commercial success that was Gratitude, Matranga is back to writing sweet songs that feel warm and cozy like that little blanket you used to love being wrapped up in when you were little. Don’t be shy, everyone had a blanket like it.

With just under a dozen country-ish tracks that mainly consist of Matranga strumming a guitar, the guy whispers his sensitive (brrrrr) lyrics with memorable choruses while occasionally being backed up by steel guitar or keyboards. From opener “So Long” over “Every Mistake” and right up to the album highlight “You Always Said You Hated San Francisco”, Matranga hits the bullseye every single time making “And” an album filled with tiny little indiepop gems. Chris Carrabba, eat your heart out!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Dead Confederate – Wrecking Ball

Not only does Dead Confederate have a very cool band name, this Georgia outfit also released one helluva cool album with “Wrecking Ball”. Think of early Nirvana’s intensity with the guitar wails of Neil Young over a dark and gritty Southern sound.

Vocalist Hardy Morris has the perfect aching voice to go with the sludgy sounds that the rest of the band likes to throw out. And the beat? Well, the beat goes on. Sometimes a little bit too long like in the 12-minute long “Flesh Colored Canvas” but that’s okay. Because in the end these guys never stop rocking out in a dirty and raw fashion that I can only applaud. Check out “The Rat” and consider yourself a fan from there on.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

All For Nothing – Solitary MCD

From Rotterdam comes All For Nothing, which is kinda how the Dutch now seem to feel about their drug policy. Anyway, these dudes and one girl already dropped an MCD and a full-length in the past and are now back with a 5-song MCD called “Solitary”.

Melodic old school hardcore with plenty of groovy breakdowns and gang vocals is sure to please a whole lot of people even though it ‘s exactly due to their music that they are able to set themselves apart from so many other band. No, that would be thanks to vocalist Cindy because let’s face it… you don’t hear that many old school bands with a female vocalist. She does a good job as does the rest of the band backing her up.

If you’re into the likes of Bane or Comeback Kid, check these Dutchies out and while you’re at it, go see them live while they’re on tour with Energy and Slapshot. One complaint though… shit’s just too short!
Score: 7 out of 10

The Hunger – Hope Against Hope

The Dutch answer to Rise And Fall has arrived! They are called The Hunger, have barely been a band for a year yet already manage to blow me clean out of my shoes with “Hope Against Hope”. They rage through six songs in barely 15 minutes and manage to make one hell of an impression while they’re at it.

Think of Integrity meets Unbroken with some of that Entombed goodness. The digipack looks great, the sound is dirty and everything about this release works! I’m already looking forward to their first full-length!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Falcon Crest – Taste The Thunder, Raise The Flag

I was still shitting myself when Falcon Crest first aired in 1981 so I really couldn’t care less how some rich dudes were trying to fuck each other over. Since then I have passed the stage of shitting myself (except for that one time but that’s a story for another day) but still that didn’t stop me from missing out on another Falcon Crest who in 2004 released an album called “Taste The Thunder, Raise The Flag”.

These dudes call Minneapolis and St. Paul their hometown and make lots of wonderful noise. Remember the days when Amphetamine Reptile dropped all those fun releases back in the nineties? Well, that’s what this one reminds me of. Aggressive rhythms, jagged guitars that clash before holding hands in a rare melodic moment, distorted vocals… it’s all on here. While their MySpace page claims they sound like shit, I can only disagree strongly because in my book “Taste The Thunder, Raise The Flag” rocks from beginning to end.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Ninja Gun – Restless Rubes

Take the best elements of alt-country and powerpop and fuse the two together. Sounds interesting? Then make sure you check out Ninja Gun’s second album, “Restless Rubes”.

The album opens with some loud distorted guitar before settling back in a mellow country-esque tune. Next track “Eight Miles Out” is pure powerpop bliss with a catchy chorus. They keep this mix up nicely before falling back on the trusty acoustic song about childhood nostalgia somewhere in the middle of the album (“Front Yard Screamers”)… you can’t go round it, it’s a must in the genre! They do it well though so all is forgiven. After that they proceed to pick up the pace again every now and then with cuts like “Nostradumbass” and “Permanent Press”. Basically, “Restless Rubes” is a mix of songs that you wanna raise a glass to at a show and tracks that make you want to… well, raise a glas. But this time while relaxing on the back porch.

All in all a very nice addition to your CD collection if you’re into bands like Big Star or Limbeck.
Score: 7.5 out of 10


Secret And Whisper - Great White Whale

by Mike SOS
Canadian outfit Secret and Whisper, a new unit formed from the ashes of Stutterfly and Thebleedingalarm, have released their new disc, the 12-track GREAT WHITE WHALE. This affair is a modern rock smorgasbord that features elements of post-hardcore (especially the high-ranged vocals), laid back piano rock, and straight-ahead hard rock that when combined, while not wholly original, sound perfect to accompany Saosin or Anberlin on a concert tour. Tracks like "Lovers" contain soaring vocals over a heavily effected guitar riff/ pounding rhythm section while "XOXOXO" with a technical guitar run and a pulsating drum performance underneath another passionate lead vocal part. If you can get down with a band that can mix well-textured sounds with a strong balance of heavy melody and melancholy or if you can't wait for the next Circa Survive disc, Secret and Whisper will appease your taste.
Score: 6 out of 10

The Secret - Disintoxication

by Mike SOS
Italian maulers The Secret take their savage Converge-esque approach as well as their documented massive personal problems ranging from jail time to substance abuse and apply all to the 10-track DISINTOXICATION. With bleak tones leading the charge and a menacing array of venomous vocals, coarse and dissonant riffs, and rhythms that grab you by the jugular and don't let go keeping the lights dim and the mood eerie, the sheer aggression emanated from tracks like "Kill The Dead" and "Funeral Monolith" bear enough brute force to contend with the likes of Mastodon and Gojira for the top spot in technical Teutonic tenacity. Raging the whole way through while sprinkling shards of odd-timed abrasive chaos along the way, The Secret make no bones about making a beast of an album with DISINTOXICATION.
Score: 8 out of 10

Scapegoat - Zombie Dog

by Mike SOS
With a wide array of influences from The Dillinger Escape Plan to Saosin firmly in place, it's a safe bet to say that classifying North Carolina quintet Scapegoat is a daunting task in the least, as this band's abrasive meets atmospheric stance assisted by blips and bleeps as much as bludgeoning riffs and bastardized screams defies most categorization. Able to hit kaleidoscopic highs and blistering lows on cuts such as the punk-y "The Hurricane" and the jangly "Trees", a spin of this 13-track entity reveals an outfit whose throw it against the wall and see if it sticks method benefits from a flair for drama and terse dynamic shifts to make ZOMBIE DOG a cohesive affair that has a lot to offer for anyone in the 18-25 year old rock fan demographic.
Score: 7 out of 10

Oceana - The Tide

by Mike SOS
Screamy emo quintet Oceana present their 12-track offering THE TIDE, a bold venture for this young squad who has shaped their sound to nestle in between Underoath and Sparta. Tracks like "The Accountable" are crammed with tortured screams and sinewy riffs, while "We Are the Messengers" denotes the band is comfortable with the machine gun chug as much as they are making ethereal keyboard noises during a mountainous breakdown. While these young un's still have a way to go before carving out anything unique, their spirited stabs at making atmospheric music with hints of brutality creeping in will keep those in their age bracket well entertained.
Score: 5 out of 10

The Hotness - Stay Classy

by Mike SOS
The Hotness is a North Carolina quintet whose metalcore approach is decked out with gobs of Southern rock and an abundance screamo, kind of like an unlikely combination of Every Time I Die and Three Doors Down. On STAY CLASSY, this act trudges through 10-tracks of slightly sleazy hard rock like "Classy" while managing to sound like countless other mainstream punk bands on cuts like "The Ghost" and "Dearly Departed", only keeping their guitars a bit more twangy. While these guys can clearly provide moments of controlled chaos with a backwoods stomp a la Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, there's barely enough of their own identity injected here to keep STAY CLASSY at the head of the class.
Score: 5 out of 10

My Children My Bride - Unbreakable

by Mike SOS
Alabama Christian metalcore troupe My Children My Bride are, as usual in this genre, a solid unit whose paint by numbers use of the standard checklisted elements of metalcore renders a moshpit starting metal disc that sounds like about 80 other bands you place it next to. "Headshot!" is highlighted by gang vocal shouts perfect for the pile-on while "Circle the Sky" rips off every Swedish death metal riff of the late '90s. The best thing about this band is the surgical precision they brandish throughout the Soilwork-eque "Severance" and "The Machinist", a trait that produces neck-snapping moments aplenty while reducing throngs of kids to sweaty, bloody messes. The glaring lack of originality and distinct identity however sadly makes My Children My Bride more interchangeable than unbreakable.
Score: 5 out of 10

For The Fallen Dreams - Changes

by Mike SOS
Michigan maulers For the Fallen Dreams lay down a capable yet unoriginal brand of melodic hardcore on their 10-track offering CHANGES. Tracks like "Last Dying Breath" combine windmill mosh parts with heartfelt gang vocals while "Never Again" sounds like the crossing of Misery Signals with Bury Your Dead. Surprisingly tuneful for a band that incorporates brutal breakdowns, this quintet doesn't add anything revolutionary to the genre, instead manages to keep the rousingly heavy atmosphere constant with a barrage of modern melodic metalcore breakdowns and endless streams of crushing low end that would make Emmure and The Acacia Strain proud leading the charge.
Score: 6 out of 10

Boxbomb - My Obsession

by Mike SOS
A band named Boxbomb should be a colossal metal troupe ready to lay waste to all in its path. Instead, this North Carolina quartet opts to go the alternative rock route with less than subtle hints of Filter and Coldplay strewn about, making rich textures via deep bass grooves and a good balance of electronic manipulations and solid rock guitar. Tapping into the aggression Cobain left behind on "Get What You Pay For" while singer-songwriter panache leads the charge on cuts like "Let Go", this disc is discernibly darker than what the big rock sound accompanied by piano usually sounds like, gracefully shifting moods from forlorn to tender to anguished on the pensive acoustic Neil Young-esque shuffle of "Wishful Thinking" and the ethereal "Not the Same". Even though their name doesn't really click with their hybrid style, MY OBSESSION elicits a mellow listening experience with nods to the early '90s rock radio giants like Our Lady Peace and Smashing Pumpkins.
Score: 6 out of 10


36 Crazyfists interview

While I was at Graspop this summer, I managed to do a short interview with Mick from 36 Crazyfists. He has since left the band (I doubt my interview had anything to do with it) because he wants to spend more time with his daughter but here ya go... probably one of the last interviews he did while being in 36 Crazyfists!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Mick: My name is Mick and I play bass in 36 Crazyfists. Along with the rest of my bandmates, I'm from Alaska. Umm, I like to take walks on the beach... nah, not really.

PRT: You recently switched from Roadrunner to Ferret in the States. Was there a particular reason for that?
Mick: Well, we didn't sell enough copies in the States which made us too small a band for them to be concerned about. With Ferret in the States, it was really just a better move because they are willing to do more for us and get it out to the right people. The flipside is that leaving for Ferret in the States also meant that we weren't on Roadrunner in Europe anymore and the people from Roadrunner over in the UK and Europe have always been really good to us. We miss those people but overall it was just a smarter move to go for a smaller label who can give us a little more attention and a little more help.

PRT: Doesn't that sting a little? Because you've been with Roadrunner since you started out.
Mick: It stings because like I said the people over here in Europe were really behind the band but in the States it's just an overall better situation. For example, we've already got more tours lined up Stateside than we ever had. Before we used to have two or three Stateside tours a year and now we're completely booked for the coming months. Not that bad of a sting huh?

PRT: You've been touring quite a bit in Europe for the past couple of years. Do you think people receive you better over here?
Mick: Completely. I don't know why or how come but it seems that people get us better over here. We play in front of more people here than we ever did in the States. I don't know why but they seem to like the Crazyfist better over here.

PRT: You recently released the new album "The Tide And Its Takers"... what does that title mean for you?
Mick: I guess you should talk to Brock about that. I think it's just a life thing... dealing with whatever life swings your way. You kinda have to go with it and try to stay positive. Sometimes the tide takes stuff and sometimes you ride it out.

PRT: One thing that 36 Crazyfists is known for are the positive lyrics. How do you guys manage to stay that way?
Mick: In life you'll always run into bumps where it's hard to stay positive but that's just life isn't it? It seems like you get more shit thrown at you than good stuff sometimes. So yeah, it can be hard but Brock really is a positive guy and he writes all our lyrics. You have to reinforce your own personal beliefs when things get hard and try to stay positive and ride that vibe out. And then things will become good again.

PRT: Personally I think that that positive vibe that you have makes you stand out between other bands in the scene. Do you feel the same way about that?
Mick: That's cool. We're just four normal guys that don't try to act tough other than to rock hard on the stage. We play aggressive music so there is that anger or whatever you wanna call it...

PRT: Yeah, but at the same time there's this other side...
Mick: Exactly. It's not just a bunch of screaming. So yeah, that being positive does set us apart a little and I think that's a good thing. We can use some more good stuff. It doesn't mean that you're a fairy or anything.

PRT: I doubt there's a lot of people who would call you a fairy to your face.
Mick: (in a threatening voice) They'd better not.

PRT: Alaska is another recurring theme for you. But you relocated to Oregon a couple of years ago, right?
Mick: Well, Brock and Thomas are still living in Alaska with their wives. I have a wife as well that I met in Portland when we moved down there. Which we initially did because it would always cost us a lot of money to come down from Alaska to tour. You either need to fly or drive 2.000 miles just to get where you need to go. So Steve and I both live in Portland. Both of our parents have moved down here from Alaska to be near us. So half of us are still in Alaska and the other half's in Portland. I would love to move back home eventually because there's no other place like it.

PRT: Isn't it hard that way for stuff like practice?
Mick: Well, yeah. When we were writing for the new album, we just got off tour and Thom spent a little bit of time back at home and then came back to Portland to write. Brock was able to stay in Alaska a little longer because it's easier for us to send him the music and for him to then write the lyrics. So sacrifices have been made but for like touring it works great. The guys come out, we practice every day for a couple of days and then head out. And it's only recently that they've moved back to Alaska fulltime. Like in the past three years or so.

PRT: In the movie Almost Famous there is one scene where the band is in a plane and they think they're going to crash and so they come out with all these confessions. If you were in that situation, what would you confess?
Mick: (laughs) I don't know... I mean sitting here with you is a little different than being in a plane thinking you're going to die. And I always try and be honest about everything. I haven't screwed anyone's girlfriend and I'm not gay so I don't know really.

PRT: Another movie question... in the movie High Fidelity the guys in the record store are constantly making these top 5 lists of songs for different occasions. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make your top 5?
Mick: Okay... top 5 songs for being stranded on a deserted island. Let's do that one... Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Top", Black Sabbath's "Holy In The Sky", any Kyuss song; a Queens Of The Stone Age song... that's four... and any Jeff Buckley tune will do.

PRT: Wow, that's pretty different from the stuff you play. It's all 70s rock there!
Mick: Yeah, I know. I don't wanna get caught in the whole stoner rock thing but I really like that groove. Like Down or Crowbar... I really dig that vibe.

PRT: Is that something you would like to play yourself as well?
Mick: I would like to someday! I'm the oldest one in the band and I kinda grew up listenting to that type of music.

PRT: Is there room for side-projects in 36 Crazyfists?
Mick: If our touring schedule would open up, there would be. Steve and me and his brother have a threepiece. We've only jammed once but we have three or four songs written. We always talk about doing it more but it never works out in the end. I think all of us will someday do something else. But 36 Crazyfists is a family and for now that still comes first.

PRT: That's a great line to end this interview on... thanks for taking some time out!


Cruel Hand interview

Cruel Hand is a relatively new band even though some of its members already did time in Outbreak. Expect some very solid hardcore which you can now check out on their Bridge Nine debut "Prying Eyes". Here's an email interview we did with vocalist Christ!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Chris: My name is Chris and i'm the vocalist for Cruel Hand.
PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard Cruel Hand yet... if Cruel Hand was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Chris: Cruel Hand is the lovechild of Sledge and On the Outside and was conceived doggystyle after the magnum broke.
PRT: You're all from Maine which I really only know as the place where all the Stephen King novels take place. What's the scene like over there?
Chris: the scene here is very scary, much like a Stephen King novel actually. there's a crazy clown that's always around killing off the hardcore kids. he brings a dog along with him and when they get you they bury you where the ground is sour and you come back to life except you want to kill. don't go down that road.
PRT: Three of you also play in Outbreak but I read that Cruel Hand is now the main priority for you. When did you decide to pull a Figure Four/Comeback Kid?
Chris: this happened in august but had been brewing for sometime. things had really plateaued, in every aspect band wise: writing, touring, earnings, performing, etc. we needed something fresh badly so we decided cut off some of that dead weight and do the band full time.
PRT: You all played different instruments in Outbreak. How come you all switched places in Cruel Hand? Is that a good way to keep things fresh and interesting for you?
Chris: definitely. nate and i are the only ones who have switched but its a switch we've always wanted to try and are enjoying. its called the old switcheroo.
PRT: You just released your second full-length "Prying Eyes" (congrats with the album by the way). Can you give me three good reasons why people should pick up the album?
Chris: thanks man! #1) marshall jcm 800. #2)Soldano avenger 100w. #3) Ampeg v-2
PRT: It's your first release on Bridge Nine... how's the new label working out for you?
Chris: Bridge 9 has always been great. from past projects up to prying eyes they've always supported us and we couldn't be happier. they made stickers for us recently and we love them for it.
PRT: You're leaving for Europe next week for what I think is your second tour here with Cruel Hand. What can people expect from your show? And what are you expecting of it?
Chris: people can expect a mosh pit, stage diving, head banging, sing alongers, spit, a short guy with a big head, a blonde dude with long hair, a drunk bassist in a pea coat, a jock wishing he had an energy drink, a dude with a mic yelling at the jock (we are a five piece this time), heavyness, tightness. i'm expecting to have a pretty good time. peeps were pretty receptive to Without a Pulse, hopefully they don't hate Prying Eyes.
PRT: From playing a show in New York with H2O, Bane and Energy one day to playing in Belgium with a bunch of other great bands a couple of days later, how weird is that?
Chris: not that weird really. i feel like i'm everywhere all the time and i like it that way. it would be weirder if we weren't doing it. it would be weird if you flew to my house just to do this interview. but if you did show up we have a couple couches.
PRT: Imagine you're putting together a show with unlimited resources, who would play? Where would it take place? ...?
Chris: Warzone, Oasis, Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age not in that order..yes, in that order, Warzone headlining in my back yard. anymore bands on this fantasy bill would make it a fest and deciding that would take days.
PRT: If there is one thing you would like to be remembered for when you stop playing in bands someday, what would it be?
Chris: i would like to be remembered as the guy who played guitar in some band that did some stuff for a while and then sang in that band that had that record on some label with those other guys who went on and did some things too.wait, what?
PRT: Any last words for our readers? And good luck with the new album and the European tour!
Chris: Thanks for the interview! i had a blast! h20 go! ya vegan kid! swamp thing rva! Wake Up Call lives! see you at the gig!