Revelations: The Black EP
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
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
Courage My Love
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
Gods of Violence
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
Footage of a Yeti
Purging the Human Condition
Release Date: January 20, 2017
New York’s Footage of a Yeti is back with Purging the Human Condition. Branded as Deathcore, this EP is not nearly as limited in its musical scope as it’s genre tag would suggest. The band could certainly be shoved into that mold, but the progressive elements of this EP are pretty hard to ignore, making it feel like the punky step-cousin of Death, Converge, and Born of Osiris. The kind of little beast that you see only on rare occasions because your parents can’t really handle him.
“D.R.E.A.M. (Death Rules Everything Around Me)” kicks off the EP in the time-honored tradition of putting your best foot forward. If you are only gonna give this one chance, then this is the song you want to listen to. The song grinds and squeals it’s way through a rhythm section stomp that lets up occasionally to catch a groove or set up a breakdown. “Purging the Human Condition Part I” is a more straightforward affair but it’s full of circle pit inducing aggression that leads into the more progressive “… Part II”. The growls shrieks and grooves of “…Part I” give way to a darker, more dissonant vibe on …”Part II”. This one boasts more of the guttural bounce that Deathcore is known for. The rest of the EP struggles to keep up the energy of the first three songs but “Deceiver, Deceiver” has a nice back and forth going on between the machine gun riffing and prototypical Metalcore breakdowns.
In a lot of ways Purging the Human Condition reminds me of the Three One G roster of bands but it’s not quite as experimental or energetic and it’s a bit more polished. I think this band has a lot of potential and I’d venture to say that (since this is not their first time around the sun) they are only going to get better. This EP is a big ol’ slab of heavy guitars, spastic shrieks and growls, and progressive rhythm work wrapped loosely in a Metalcore hoodie. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are interested in heavy bands that like to push the envelope.
Reviewed by mark1340