Release Date: October 13, 2017
So, I will freely admit that when Fozzy made their debut, I was pretty sure it was a joke. I was more than a little sad that Rich Ward was involved. The band persisted though and damn if they didn’t turn out to be a really good band. Chris Jericho has become an excellent vocalist and there is no denying that the songs are catchy as hell at this point. That’s all not to distract from the fact that they can deliver the goods live. Judas, the band’s sixth album, continues in the vein of modern hard music (think Disturbed, All That Remains, and Sevendust) that the band started to move towards on Sin and Bones.
Like all good albums, the tracklist here is pretty much exactly right. Judas plays like a full-length record that is meant to take you on an emotional journey, an idea sadly lost on many artists/producers/labels these days. The band put their best foot forward by giving us the title track first. “Judas” is a big arena rocker with just enough of a hint of Stuck Mojo’s bounce to make old school fans smile. The bounce is driven along by Jericho’s spot on vocals, cementing the idea that he is the real deal. Everything about this song makes you want to raise your fist and bob your head along (even if you are in your car driving down the interstate and people gawk at you while passing….not that I would know, I’m just assuming).
“Painless” is another highlight in my opinion. It’s a little darker than most of the album but it’s dark atmosphere and down tempo feel make the chorus really, really shine. Jericho’s voice soars over top of the pummeling rhythm section. Oddly, they manage to make the song feel more like thankfulness than lament. “Burn Me Out” brings some disco rhythms to the party and, for a moment, allows the electronics to share the stage more prominently. It’s a very radio-oriented song but it’s also really excellent. “Weight of the World” is similar in style, but it doesn’t quite get to the top of the mountain like “Burn Me Out” does. If that’s not your thing, Fozzy give you a straight up metal tune, “Wolves At Bay” to make up for it.
Overall, it’s really impressive just how much this band has evolved over the years. Judas isn’t a perfect album, but the band manage to perfect their niche while, at the same time, taking enough risks to keep their sound from getting stale. If you have enjoyed their last few albums, you will certainly like this one. Also, if you listen to rock radio regularly then you should get out there and buy this album because you’ll love it.
Reviewed by mark1340
I Am Growing, Honestly
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Hailing from the “lower regions” of Texas, Sine Cura are making their debut with this independently produced EP. I’m seriously starting to believe that there is something in the water in Texas because pretty much every band that comes from there, no matter the style of music, are excellent. It’s sort of the Canada of the United States. I Am Growing, Honestly is a fascinating EP full of Emo-tinged Alt-Rock with a Pop goodness that pretty much makes it impossible to not enjoy.
The EP is mostly full of the energetic, up-tempo Rock of “Drive,” “Pressing Flowers,” and “Growing Pains.” They come complete with catchy choruses, bouncy rhythms, and jangly melodies that make you want to bob your head and scream along. The more exploratory “Headache Remedy” and “La Luna” helps the EP to shine the spotlight in a different direction. They have a deeply intimate feel that really speaks to me and firmly reminds me that Emo in the right hands can still be great. I absolutely love these two songs.
If you are a fan of bands like Smoking Popes, Newfound Glory, Further Seems Forever, or The Maine then you should definitely check out what Sine Cura has to offer. I Am Growing, Honestly is an EP that is well worth your time and I am looking forward to hearing what this band has to offer in the future.
Reviewed by mark1340
Will To Power
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Although people love to debate it, there is little room to argue over who rules Metal music these days. It’s Arch Enemy, plain and simple. Will To Power is their latest offering, featuring the recorded debut of Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore). It is also their second album to feature vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. I’m not gonna lie, War Eternal is one of my favorite heavy albums ever and it is a lot to follow up.
After a fast-paced intro-mental, the album proper begins with guns blazing. “The Race” immediately sets this album apart from War Eternal with it’s breakneck guitars, and metalcore style breakdowns. It’s a good song and a surprisingly well-done mishmash of styles highlighted by a solo that would be at home on an old Mercyful Fate record.
It’s the marching-paced songs that stand out the most here though. “Blood In The Water,” “The World Is Yours,” (also the album’s first single) and “First Day in Hell” are powerhouse songs that demand to be heard. White-Gluz sounds great on these songs, while also showing that she can do a bit more with her voice than War Eternal led us to believe. The highlight, for me, though is the epic, string-laden “A Fight I Must Win.” Taking the album out on a high note, the band offer something a bit different here as it features a soaring chorus backed by strings and a more rock-oriented guitar sound and style. Honestly, it’s been awhile since Arch Enemy took a chance musically in my opinion, and this is wildly better than I had even hoped for.
Overall, I don’t quite like this as well as War Eternal but it has definitely grown on me over repeated listens. Over time it has become one of my favorite heavy albums this year. The songs aren’t as immediately striking here, but that makes sense because War Eternal had to do everything right in order for Arch Enemy to move forward. Will To Power is the sound of Arch Enemy moving forward. If you have enjoyed the band’s last few albums then you will certainly find a lot to embrace here as well.
Reviewed by mark1340
Cradle of Filth
Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay
Release Date: September 22, 2107
Since 1991, Cradle of Filth have proven over and over again that they are one of the British Metal elite. One of the few Extreme Metal acts to date a major label, Cradle of Filth have long been a band that values forward motion, adding in many progressive, symphonic, and darkwave elements over the years. And they have always been at the forefront of it. Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay is no exception to this rule, yet it somehow feels an old friend re-emerging from the mire.
After the obligatory mood-setter, the band launch into the epic and powerful “Heartbreak and Séance,” whose sad guitars quickly explode into a plundering musical rape. Dani Filth’s screech and bark approach is damn near perfected in this song (even sounding like the mighty King Diamond at times) as it sways between melodic heaviness and extreme brutality. “Achingly Beautiful” follows it up, introducing itself with spoken word before pummeling the listener with a rhythm section onslaught underneath an evil calliope and Filth’s powerfully strange vocals (intermixing this time with female vocals). This song is every bit as surprisingly memorable as “Nymphetamine.”
While there really isn’t a misstep here at all (perhaps the band’s best album since Nymphetamine), “You Will Know the Lion By His Claw” is a standout as well. It’s got a more rolling feel to it, and most of it features Dani’s bark, using the screech only sparingly. This causes pretty energizing feel when he lets loose. “The Seductiveness of Decay” is a fast-paced piece of Black Metal goodness as well, featuring the band at its heaviest since Damnation and a Day. The symphonic breakdown is about as cool as it gets in Extreme Metal. Meanwhile, “Vengeful Spirit” sees the return of ex-Theater of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, a beautiful voice who has a long history with the genre and the band.
Overall, this is a milestone album for “the Filth.” Anyone that questioned Cradle of Filth’s relevance in 2017 will certainly eat their words upon the release of Cryptoriana. Over the last decade the band’s revolving lineup has affected their sound for better and for worse, but this lineup has solidified since the last album and you can hear that they gel better. This is easily one of the band’s most complete albums, never letting up or missing a step for even a second. Don’t miss out on this one if you love Extreme Metal!
Reviewed by mark1340
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Riverdogs have been an on again/ off again band since 1989 when they made a mild splash due to the involvement of Vivian Campbell. Campbell was ex-DIO, and would, of course, go on to be part of multi-platinum rockers Def Leppard. California is their first release since 2011 and it’s an even-keeled album full of lead guitar, sharp melodies, and memorable choruses. If that’s not your thing, you may as well stop reading now.
My personal favorite here is “The Revolution Starts Tonight.” The song presents itself with wah-wah guitar pieces and soft vocals but has that big soaring chorus that anyone who lived through the eighties will immediately be drawn to. The guitar work is so dynamic on this one that it keeps me coming back over and over. There is just so much going on within the song. It’s absolutely masterful.
The more rockin’ “Searching for a Signal” is another excellent moment. It’s more aggressive and moves at a faster clip, though the vocal keeps it grounded in Rock and Roll, but, man oh man, that guitar riff is awesome and the soloing is as classic as it gets. The little Beatles-esque interlude gives it some depth as well and is entirely unexpected. It’s a great contrast to its bluesy follow-up, “Welcome to the New Disaster,” where the vocals lead the charge. The laid back “I Don’t Know Anything” takes the album out on a gentler note. Though it does have its louder moments, it plays like an intimate ballad and, again, like the rest of the album, the guitar work here is phenomenal.
I’ve said it before and I ‘ll say it again, there is no label better than Frontiers when it comes to recognizing the brilliance of bands that were a little behind the commercial trend the first time. Riverdogs brilliantly resurrect themselves here, much like we have seen from Tyketto, Hardline, and Harem Scarem in the last decade. If you like musicality, melody, and radio-friendly Rock then you should check out California. Riverdogs deliver the goods here in every way.
Reviewed by mark1340