Red Reign

Red Reign

Red Reign


Release Date: December 2, 2016 

Virginia’s Red Reign are back with their sophomore effort, a self-titled EP. Produced by David Ivory (Halestorm, Silvertide), this short and sweet set of five songs will definitely turn your head if you are a fan of bands like Dokken, Holy Soldier, and Queensryche’s more commercial moments. It’s thick, melodic metal…the kind you just don’t hear enough of these days. 

As anyone who lived through the eighties will attest to, a singer can make or break a band of this style. Carlton McMichael has a helluva voice, though, the best I have heard in quite awhile. He reminds me a lot of original Holy Soldier vocalist Steven Patrick (although his voice isn’t quite as high). Of course, the rest of the band hold it down really well while he wails away. Stevie Shred’s leads are especially memorable, particularly on their namesake track. David Ivory’s production is spot on, hooking up a thick, beefed-up, sound that allows each instrument to shine through with clarity. “Red Reign” and “What Is Love For” are my personal favorite’s here and they perfectly do their job. They leave you wanting more when the EP ends.

I was a little hesitant to put this in because I have heard quite a few clunkers of this style in the last couple of years. You never know when you get a band like this in the mail if it's going to be a real band or a glorified bar band but Red Reign are the real deal. Every one of the songs takes you for a great ride. If you like the bands mentioned above, this is a band well worth your time. 

Reviewed by mark1340

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Opt aut sic eco s/t cassette

Opt Aut Sic Eco

Opt Aut Sic Eco

Middle Man Records

Release Date: January 30, 2017

Synth oriented hardcore is something that will grab my attention every time. From the day I heard The Locust for the first time I’ve been obsessed with how bands can pair synths together with screams and spastic drumming. Opt Aut Sic Eco are a bit of a super band consisting of members of Ostraca, .gif from god, Plague Walker, Hive Mind, Lickgoldensky and Coma Regalia. How this release avoided being a series of splits is beyond me. I’m amazed by how each of these bands’ members can continue to crank out the hits. When news of this release hit my timeline I was all over Shawn from Middle Man to get my hands on a copy and by gosh, it did not disappoint.

So what does Opt Aut Sic Eco sound like? Hmm… well, there are obvious influences of each of the member bands respective catalogs. For other reference points, there are moments that sound like The Devil Wears Prada, other points sound like Hot Nerds older hardcore brother, a few moments that remind of later Locust. Best of all though is the Mario dungeon/Myst synth sound that drives it all. For me, the standout tracks on the album are “The Hunger” or “You One Of Them Super Draculas”. Being totally honest, though, my one complaint is that the synth tone does get a little monotonous through the album and could use some variety.

Middle Man has chosen to go the tape route with this one, putting this out on a nice clear blue tint tape. If you are a fan of synths or screamy hardcore emo, then this would be a solid addition to your collection. Also, to all the video game developers out there, maybe you should consider this one for your next soundtrack?

Reviewed by: Rob 1340


#OptAutSicEco #Screamo #Synthcore #Rob1340



Stand up, Forward, March!


Stand Up, Forward, March!

Metal Blade Records

Release date:  November 25, 2016

As diverse as music is, there are still bands that stand out as breaking free of the cookie cutter sounds that define genres.  Stockholm quartet Sister is definitely an example of a band that colors outside the lines.  Their mix of sleazy, punk influenced metal has certainly been heard before, but few bands have been able to add the aggression and infectious songwriting to their formula that seems to come naturally to Sister.  If you can imagine the Misfits jamming with Black Veil Brides playing Guns N’ Roses covers, Sister is probably pretty close to that sound.  Their third full-length outing, Stand Up, Forward, March!, makes it clear that Sister is an evolving force, coming out both heavier, and catchier than ever.  

Sister’s heavy as hell take on glam fits beside bands like their countrymen Crashdiet, but adds a level of aggression more akin to thrash.  Jamie Anderson’s gravelly shriek is downright menacing, and along with Tim Tweak’s take no prisoners guitar riffing, the band creates a wall of sound that channels both darkness and melody into an edifice that brings to mind a heavier version of Motley Crue’s debut Too Fast For Love (1981).  Songs like “Carved In Stone” match a Ratt inspired verse with a huge sing-along chorus.  “Trail of Destruction” is heavy and bombastic from the start, mixing a chugging groove in the verses with a perfectly paced build into a Guns N’ Roses style chorus.  Running through all of this is an uber-heavy delivery that at moments brings to mind bands like Venom.   

It’s the mix of heavy and melody that makes a Sister album so damn hard to turn off.  “Destination Dust” rages forward with a melodic chorus that employs huge vocal harmonies that are impossible to not sing along with.  “Piece Of Shame” updates the glam/punk style of Star Star or Hanoi Rocks, and while being a heavier experience, Sister creates a hook that sinks into the listener’s brain.  Without this, the band’s incessant full speed metal would probably be exhausting to listen to.  Mixing it with unforgettable choruses and sing-along moments gives these songs an enduring quality.  Sister has consistently released amazing albums, and Stand Up, Forward, March! Is no exception.  

Reviewed by Jim1340