Dead Truth Recordings
Release Date: July 22. 2016
South Florida metallers Forty Winters return with Rotting Empire, the follow up to 2011’s Reflection and 2013’s Isolation EP. The album features guest appearances by Chad Ruhlig (For the Fallen Dreams) and Adam Warren (Oceano) and was recorded by Jesse Kirkbride in the band’s home state. Since 2011, Forty Winters have performed alongside a variety of bands including Emmure, Suicide Silence, Shai Hulud and A Day to Remember.
While Rotting Empire is a fairly predictable record musically, it’s also a pretty furious one. The pummeling two and a half minute “Summoning Spirits,” for example, is a glorious moment for any fan of the chaotic side of Metal. The band embrace the fury of Hardcore offering breakdowns, groove, and intensity from start to finish. “Human Sacrifice,” clocking in at under two minutes, is another favorite that leans more towards the Hardcore elements I love so much (the bass drum “Boom!” and circle pit pace). On the other side of the coin, “Disease of Time” is a more dynamic look at what the band can do. It eases in and out of the grooves and blast beats and breakdowns, creating intensity by creating space and giving the listener some moments away from the breakneck speed of the majority of the album.
If you like any of the band’s mentioned above then you’ll certainly enjoy Rotting Empire. I’m not sure what the official label for this genre is (I tend to call it “Jock Metal” since I see so many people listening to these bands at the gym), but the band play a solid mix of Metalcore and Death Metal bits overlain with barking vocals and sprinkled with atmospheric guitar bits to make it more dynamic. I enjoy this album, but there is certainly a formula here, so what you take from this will definitely depend on what your favorite style of Metal is.
Reviewed by mark1340
Beyond the Fade
Release Date: May 13, 2016
Ted Poley is probably best known as the lead singer of one of the last successful glam bands, Danger Danger. Beyond the Fade is his latest solo release and easily his best work to date. While it falls in line nicely with his body of work, everything seems to be on “11” on this one, from the excellent production to the beautiful harmonies to the bright, powerful vocals Poley is known for.
Almost every track here is a shining example of what Poley can do, leaving you to wonder why the man isn’t a household name at this point. “Everything We Are” is a big stadium rocker with airy keyboards, emotional vocals, slick guitar solos, and a giant chorus filled with tight vocal harmonies. “Stars,” my personal favorite track, is another highlight that is driven by a thumping bass line laced with eighties keyboard work and an explosive chorus that reminds me of everything that was great about the expertly produced albums of the pre-Grunge era. This song should in a Songwriting 101 book. After all, we know that what Bono said so many years ago still rings true; it’s much harder to write a song that makes you feel good than it is to write one that taps into anger and resentment. “Stars” makes you feel like you can take on the world.
“Sirens” is another brilliant moment that reminds me of Danger Danger’s best deep tracks, honing in on those slightly darker musical tones but still managing to be explosive in all the right places. The best part of it all is that this album plays like an album, it could easily have sounded like a collection of singles with some filler. Poley takes it all the way with this one and I don’t skip a single track, even after multiple spins.
Since reuniting with Danger Danger a few years back the guy has been on fire and if it’s a positive, inspiring AOR record you are looking for then look no further than this one. Mother Love Bone may have coined the term “Love Rock” but Ted Poley embodies it on Beyond the Fade.
Reviewed by mark1340
Release Date: July 8, 2016
German metallers Deadlock return with an album no one could have anticipated. The band have suffered incalculable losses over the last few years, most notably the death of drummer/founder Tobias Graf and the departure of female vocalist Sabine Scherer (replaced here by Margie Gerlitz). What could have been the band’s angriest, pissiest, most anti- album ever is instead a masterpiece of contemplation and hope.
“Epitaph” opens the album with the typical Deadlock grind, falling somewhere between Metalcore and Death Metal, but sprinkled with the hopeful and positive soar of Gerlitz voice. The chorus here is just aces man. It’s the perfect balance of heavy guitars and class. The title track gets down and dirty with its chaotic guitars and near Black Metal vocal, but, again, Gerlitz’s voice acts as an anti-depressant as the band lets the chorus groove while the clean vocals cleanse the palette. The guitar solo is top notch as well, leading brilliantly into the softly sung Lord’s Prayer before finishing it out with the groove. It’s a brilliant song and touching tribute that will give you goosebumps. “Backstory Wound” is another highlight that trades heaviness for contemplation three-quarters of the way through before the song works itself out with an intricate solo that will make the band’s peers stand up and take notice.
My favorite thing about this album though is how Gerlitz’s voice acts as the calming agent to the intensity/pain of the screaming vocals, making this much less of a beauty & the beast approach than the other albums. Hybris has a cathartic sound that I’m sure will reach far beyond the band’s own camp. This is an album that offers hope to people in pain above all else and that, my friends, is pretty rare these days. If you are a fan of Metal or need to hear that the Sun will rise again then Hybris is for you. This is easily one of the best of 2016 so far.
Reviewed by mark1340
Nuclear Blast USA
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Formed in 2006, Scorpion Child released a helluva debut in 2013. After some high profile touring, half the band split and, admittedly, I figured that was the end of the band. I couldn’t have been more wrong though as “The Child” have returned with Acid Roulette, a heavy as hell trip back to the raw, awe-inspiring days of a young Heavy Metal.
Again taking cues from the mystical curiosities of bands like Deep Purple and Pentagram, the band rip through a whole new set of songs with ballsier guitars, wilder wailing, bigger choruses, and tighter rhythms. “Twilight Coven” is an excellent exhibit of all of these things. The guitar riffs spiral themselves into a big, open chorus that begs you to sing along as the drums and bass keep the song grounded in the groove. “She Sings I Kill” is another fantastic moment, relying heavily on the psychedelic groove of the band’s debut but delivering it via heavier guitars and pounding drums. The vocals soar over top it all like a raven swirling a burning coven. Meanwhile songs like “Winter Side of Deranged” and “Tower Grove” show a more stadium sized side of the band as they channel their inner Deep Purple. There isn’t a moment of filler in sight.
Overall, this is probably the best straight up Rock and Roll album so far this year. It gets me particularly stoked because the “critic” in me figured the lineup changes would seal Scorpion Child’s fate. Make no mistake, Acid Roulette is bigger, heavier, tighter, and way more anthemic than the band’s debut. Any fan of the Rock and Roll Revivalist movement (Rival Sons, BRMC, Rose, Electric Wizard, etc.) needs to own this one as does any fan of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and the like. Acid Roulette is the real deal brothers and sisters.
Reviewed by mark1340
David Camarena of Heart Like War talks with Jim 1340 about their new album Fired Up, and what it's like to be a Christian in the world of punk rock. The band's Thumper Punk Records debut is one of the best punk rock albums of 2016, and David is excited to talk about the band's early releases recorded with Mike Herrera (MxPx), the new songs, and making a statement through his lyrics.