Young Fox

Sky Beats Gold

Spartan Records

Release Date: March 10, 2017

Pittsburgh, PA’s Young Fox return with their first full-length record, Sky Beats Gold. The album was  self-produced by the band and helmed by THE Marty Lunn (Zao and also the band’s guitarist). The band’s swaying, Alt Rock vibe feels very influenced by the late nineties/early 00’s emo scene but it never allows the influence to totally take, enabling it to keep a modern, positive vibe. Anberlin’s Stephen Christian makes a guest appearance on “Slow Burn” as well.

I love pretty much every song on this album so it’s complicated when trying to figure out which songs that I should mention. Let’s start with the very first track, “Sometimes the Monsters Win,” which is driven along by a great, steady beat and capped off with ethereal guitar work and a grungey riff that pops in and out just enough to keep it swirling around in your brain. The jelly-filling is a chorus that is as anthemic as it is dissonant sounding. Of course, “Slow Burn” is a great song as well, offering a moodier take on the band’s sound. It has a mild Stoner Rock vibe and big, bright chorus. Stephen Christian’s appearance is cool as well, simply for the fact that its good to hear his voice. Another favorite among favorites is “We Are Not the Wolves.” It begins with a Sunny Day Real Estate vibe, sparsely building itself into a song that, by three-quarters of the way through, has built itself into an understated masterpiece blending heavy guitars with a more ambient background and soaring vocals.

So, I’m just gonna say it. I don’t know anything about this band’s religious affiliations or anything like that BUT I do know that Sky Beats Gold reminds me a lot of the brilliant output that “Christian bands” were offering from the mid -nineties to the mid-00’s. That’s a scene I sorely miss (and the singer reminds me of what the guy from Hotpinkturtle might sound like if he were in a band in 2017).  Everything about this album is interesting, poetic, and positive. It doesn’t shy away from feelings of desolation but it always embraces the silver linings. Sky Beats Gold is a contender for Album of the Year in my book.


Reviewed by mark1340

#SpartanRecords #YoungFox #mark1340


Revelations: The Black EP


William Control

Revelations: The Black EP

Control Records

Release date:  February 17, 2017

William Control has been a busy boy lately.  The first of four EPs in his Revelations series, a quartet of short releases that together will comprise his fifth studio album was released in October.  The Pale was full of the dark synthpop Control has become known for, channeling some of the most exciting, moody music of the 1980s into contemporary broodings.  The result was a fantastic set of songs that was far too short.  Thankfully, The Black extends upon this collection, adding a further four songs to the Revelations cycle. 

In many ways The Black is exactly what one would expect from William Control.  “Analog Flesh In a Digital World” is a perfect opening track, quickly building from dark piano introspection to a pulsing dance beat baptized in synthesizers.  The lyrics speak both longingly and disdainfully of true contact in a world of primarily digital connections, capturing the increasing neurosis of the internet age.  “All I Need” follows, it’s main riff bringing to mind New Order’s classic “True Faith.”  “Knife Play” is both laid back and visceral.  Its mid-tempo groove would be soothing, if not for the underlying thread of menace that runs through the track.  In the case of these three songs Control’s kinetic songwriting and his ability to craft a supremely catchy hook hold the listener in thrall. 

The collection closes with a piano ballad, “Velvet Rose.”  When I think of William Control it’s the constant energy that flows through his songs that comes to mind.   There is an edgy quality to his songs that makes them so irresistible.  On this track Control employs a stripped down arrangement that serves as a perfect vehicle for his rich voice to create an emotion.  Superbly crafted harmonies grace the chorus, and as opposed to the darkness and energy of the other songs on The Black, “Velvet Rose” is beautiful in its simplicity and sentiment. 

William Control has defined a sound based on classic elements, and perfected it over the course of his albums.  The Black is another excellent set of songs that welcome the listener to join Control in a bleak world that is part romantic fantasy and part misanthropic reality.  In many ways he is the voice of digital outcasts in the way that punk rock was a scream of dissent in its infancy.  As with The Pale, I am left wanting more, and impatient for the next release in the Revelations series. 

Reviewed by Jim1340


#WilliamControl #TheBlackEP #ControlRecords #Darkwave #Jim1340


Cris Martin's Rock Dawn

Cris Martin

Rock Dawn


Release Date: August 22, 2016

Cris Martin was the guitarist in an eighties band called from the UK called Thunderstick (which I have never heard of….and that’s saying something!) and it appears he hasn’t done much musically since. This is his debut solo album and it also features Thunderstick drummer Barry Graham Purkis as well as Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane, etc.) on three songs. Despite the dated looking cover, Cris seemed like a really cool guy via email so I agreed to give it a listen.

I’m so glad I got to check this one out! The first song, “Witches Tower,” features Blaze Bayley and is, in all honesty, not very good. The album quickly recovers though with a series of instrumentals that are almost mesmerizing. “Overrun” has a really bright feel that is Pop Rock-ish but the talking guitars are fantastic and it immediately draws you in. It’s one of my favorite tunes on the album and establishes that Cris Martin is no fool when it comes to the guitar! “Harmonic Crunch” and “Metal Go Round” are as advertised with a driving, Heavy Metal feel that moves along behind explosive lead guitar work. The former features a great mid-section (but quick) that gets down and dirty at just the right time. The bluesy “The Twilight Years” is another favorite moment and reminds me of some of George Lynch’s solo work and the old Badlands stuff.

The other two songs with Blaze Bayley singing are much better than “Witches Tower.” “Call of the Wild” is a backyard blues, acoustic led tune that feels like a Louisiana swamp party. Bayley’s vocals here are probably the best I have ever heard from him, making me wonder if he should take a crack at another style of music. It’s also catchy as hell!  “Heretic” is a paint-by-numbers Eighties Metal tune but it sounds great and Bayley’s vocals help it soar and will certainly remind people of why Iron Maiden once thought he was the right dude for the job.

Overall, this album has a super-cheesy cover and starts out on the wrong foot, but it’s worth it once you really dig in. Martin’s playing is sensational, it’s a bit flashy but tremendously song-oriented and super easy to get deep into. If you are a fan of instrumental albums then there is a lot here for you to love. I’ll be doing some checking into Thunderstick as well as, if it’s anything like this, then I have certainly missed out!

Reviewed by mark1340


#CrisMartin #RockDawn #Independent #Mark1340



Courage My Love


InVogue Records

Release Date: February 3, 2017

So, I was pretty stoked for this new full length from Courage My Love. In the truest sense, it’s really their first album of new material and it follows a full-length compiled from the band’s four EPs. The Canadian trio have released some really great music so far and Synesthesia is no exception.

The first thing you really notice about this album is it’s poppy and even-keel. The band’s previous work was more guitar-oriented but on Synesthesia the electronics take over. This gives a softer overall feel to the songs that can be surprising at first. After a couple of spins it starts to sink in though and you begin to realize how much more mature this album is than their other material.

While the album starts off with a wonky intro, which the album is strangely named after, it gets rolling proper with “Animal Heart”, a big , electro-driven anthem that makes you want to dance. The bright and poppy “Stereo” is another highlight with it’s driving backbeat and gorgeous vocal work. The more soulful “Two-Headed Monster” is a bit moodier and brings a new dynamic to the record that brings their retro sound into the land of Lorde and Tove Lo in  a surprise twist. The rockier choruses of  “The Year I Disappear” and “Drowning” keep the album from getting redundant and provides those big anthem moments that I absolutely love. “Never Gonna Change” rounds the album out and is my personal favorite track. It reminds me a bit of T.A.T.U. with it’s explosive chorus and danceable bounce. I’m sure there will be plenty of glowsticks on tour when this song comes to life onstage.

I love this album. It’s a blast to listen to and is so well-produced that it just flows with ease from tune to tune. Courage My Love are a tremendously talented band that I am expecting big things from. You should check out Synesthesia if you enjoy The Good Natured, Lights, Mae, Tonight Alive, or similar bands.  

Reviewed by mark1340



#CourageMyLove #Synesthesia #InVogueRecords #Mark1340


Gods of Violence


Gods of Violence

Nuclear Blast 

Release Date: January 27, 2017

Yeah, so Nuclear Blast is pretty much kicking ass and taking names since the start of 2017. Sepultura’s Machine Messiah and Overkill’s The Grinding Wheel are career -defining records. Wedged right in between the release of those two albums is Kreator’s Gods of Violence a….wait for it… career-defining record. The band have been on a steady upswing since 2001’s Violent Revolution but this beast is as well-rounded as it is aggressive. Kreator are in peak form here, from the pristine production to the world gone mad inspired lyrical themes. 

Almost every track here is an instant classic if you are a fan of Extreme Metal. “Satan is Real” is unquestionably my personal favorite here. It’s massive twin leads, some in your face guitar melodies, and snarled lyrical content pointing out the worst parts of humanity as “Satan.” It’s hard logic to argue with. Although the title track starts off with some acoustic work it quickly becomes a full throttle, venom-induced Extreme Metal anthem that makes you want to pump your fist and bang your head. The rolling “Hail the Hordes” has a Viking Metal bent to it that adds some depth to an already fascinating musical work. The more traditional NWOBHM sound of “Lion With Eagle Wings” and “Fallen Brother” could be argued as something new in Kreator’s bag of tricks, but if you were around back in the day you’d remember that there was a time when they didn’t sound too far from this style, despite being considered wildly extreme for the era. They sound great trading lead solos, belting out semi-anthem choruses, and adding in acoustic bits to break the monotony. 

I have truly enjoyed the last few Kreator releases but this one has been on repeat since I first received it. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. If you are a fan of Extreme Metal then Gods of Violence is a prime example of what this genre can be. Put away your Slayer records and go buy this one. You’ll be happy you did. 

Reviewed by mark1340

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