Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Four Year Strong - Explains It All

When I heard that Four Year Strong's new album was not contain any new material, I was a little disappointed. They have an amazing talent to write catchy music. So again, when I heard that it was going to be a 90's cover album, my brain was a little divided. I mean, I grew up in the 90s, I was there for the birth of web-tv, the birth of cable internet, I was old enough to understand the Clinton scandle, I was just getting into music when Kurt Cobain passed, I was a child of the 90's, and I was excited to hear the musical memories of mine were going to be covered by one of my current favorite bands almost (and in some cases over) a decade later. At the same time, I was upset there wasn't any new tunes.

The first post of any song off their album was the cover of Absolutely (Story of a Girl) and I didn't think that it was well done at all. I mean, I could tell they wanted it to sound like older style covers. Back when punk covers were punk, not highly-tuned and very well mixed tracks. I thought the drumming was horrid, and the instrumentals were sloppy at best.

But a few weeks later they posted the cover of "Semi-Charmed Life", and I was enthralled. Back when I first heard of Third Eye Blind, and I first heard this song, I found out my sister had the album. I snuck into her room and grabbed the cd (which, by the way youngin's, back in the early 90's, cd's were actually about twice as thick, and still can play in the early version cd players,) popped the cd into my playstation, plugged headphones into my 13 inch tv, and played this track over and over. Needless to say, this was giving me a glimmer of hope for the rest of the album.

Then, I saw the track list. Give me a moment to say, friggin amazing choices! From the first track on the album ("So Much for the Afterglow", formerly by Everclear), to the last song ("She's So High"), I was jamming the entire time! And a little FYI, "So Much For The Afterglow" was also the first song on the Everclear album as well, which is cool. I always thought it was a perfect intro song. Continuing on, the cover of "Ironic" is simply mind blowing. I still can't get over the fact that they covered "Roll to Me", it was one of those monumental songs of the 90's, and I am glad that it was covered!

The bands covered are everything from Sugar Ray to Alanis Morrisette, to Smashing Pumpkins. All in all, Four Year Strong did a great job of encompassing a lot of great musical sides of the 90's and bringing it into one album that hopefully kids these days will be able to relate to.

After "Roll to Me" is "Fly", in which features Travis from Gym Class Heros, always a good choice with "rap" parts in songs. Let me just say this cover is very well done. Like I said, at no point during this album do I stop jamming and enjoying myself. The album ends with "She's So High", which I hate to say was one of my favorite songs of the 90's, the only song I wish was done that wasn't was "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

Album: 6 out of 10 zings.

Message to Band: The reason the rating is so low is because you should have at least thrown a couple of originals on there as bonus tracks or something. I am also one of those people who think Nirvana should never be covered. There are also two covers that don't make me rock out as hard, and the album isn't a constant, meaning I'll probably skip a couple of tracks when I listen to it. Lets hear some originals dudes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gamma Pulse - Demos

I wanted to take some of my time and my writing and write about some bands that I find/that find me. Be it on myspace or opening at a show, I figured some of these guys deserve a review, especially the good ones! So here I present to you: Gamma Pulse.

Between the time I have been spending transferring my old skate videos of me and my friends onto DVD, and the time I have spent getting addicted to facebook games such as Pixel Ranger, I am still on the scout for good new music, as it seems hard for me to find new bands to get into.

I know a lot of you are probably like me, and get tired of the constant flood of bands trying to add you on myspace, just so that maybe someone else that visits your page will see their "thank you for adding me" comment. Let me just say, these guys sent me a request with a down to earth message attached to the request. For some reason, something pulled me to their page, so I gave them a listen.

All I can start off by saying is holy shit. Absolutely amazing. They only have three demos up on their page, but they all completely rocked me in a different way. Once again, as I said in a different review, this band actually seems to contain everything I like in heavier music. Honestly, I don't even know how to review them, I really am just that stricken for words.

Each song (as I cannot choose a favorite because each of them are as equally awesome as the next. "Stranded", "Blueprint for Escape" and "Heart I Hold" are each brutal songs. Very strong guitar parts, and when I say strong, I mean strong. Very interesting, and sometimes a bit technical of riffs. Infact in "Heart I Hold" there is an increasingly fast guitar riff that almost reminds me of the old Mighty Morphin Power Rangers riff, except 10 times more powerful and ready to melt your face off.

The drumming is sick. Full of double kicks and perfectly planned crashes and drums rolls. The drumming during the breakdowns are not over done, neither is the guitar and the vocals. Once again I don't find myself thinking "there should or shouldn't be singing during this part."

Now, I don't know how many other songs these guys have written, but to me, these demos sound like amazing, simply put together songs.

Oh, I didn't even touch the vocals. Do you like clean vocals that aren't high and whiney? Do you like amazing screams that you can understand and not wonder "what the hell is being sung, it sounds like 'wakka wakka wakka' "? Do you like growls and scowls that make your bones rattle? If you do, don't look any further, I can guarantee that you will be in awe.

All in all, for what I am assuming (since I don't know much about this band) is the band's freshman Demos, I am simply stunned by the ability these guys have to make an a song, and most likely an album, work so fluently.

Honestly, in my opinion, Gamma Pulse is for fans of bands such as Vanna, Bury Your Dead, As I Lay Dying, Still Remains, August Burns Red, UnderOATH, and so on. Yes, they really are comparable to this bands.

Demos - 9 out of 10 zings.

Message to band - Dude, just keep killin' it. I don't know how else to put it. There were only one or two instances that were very short that bothered me, but I am sure its due to the quality of the demo production. Nothing to be ashamed of, honestly, get an album out there, by far will raise to the top as one of my favorite bands.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

August Burns Red - Constellations

When I started going to shows, they pretty much entailed what ever genre of music my friend Chad wanted to go to. Back then he was into pop-punk as well as hardcore and metal, and yes, even some rap. Although we never did go to any rap shows, even though they were discussed. It was because of him I really started to go to more and more shows.

Aside from my first two shows being relatively bigger/more well known tours (Ska Is Dead and Warped Tour), the next tour that Chad thought I would enjoy going to him with was the tour in which Killswitch Engage and From Autumn to Ashes tour with 18 Visions and 36 Crazy Fists. This was actually the first time I had seen this type of show/heard this music live.

Back between its transitional phase, we went to see this show at the venue in Syracuse, NY called Club Tundra (both before and after it was called this, it is known as The Lost Horizon, one of the most legendary venues in the nation, also with a lot of history.) And needless to say, I loved the show, I love the atmosphere, I loved the energy. All considered, I was enthralled.

Over the years, I have been very picky over my hardcore/metal (whatever genre you want to call it, and what ever sub-genre you classify all these bands as. Either way, its fucking intense rock music that most don't dream of listening to.) I knew that I liked smooth breakdowns, open stringed usually, and more melodic than chaotic instrumentals.

When I first heard some songs by August Burns Red, I have to admit I was not a fan. I really did not like their music all too much. Yes, I would rather listen to them then say Lil Wayne or Kenny Chesney or Coldplay. However, as all of my friends started to like August Burns Red more and more, I decided I would give their new album a shot, and once again, I was surprised.

From beginning to end, this album contains almost all aspects of metal/hardcore that I do enjoy. They take some liberties in which I understand they try some new things. During the song "Ocean of Apathy" they actually slow it down for a minute and play what almost sounds like a jam band type riff.

A lot of their guitar playing sounds very technical, or if you will "math" like. It sounds very well constructed and like they did not want their new album to come out sounding half-assed...as another recently reviewed band seemed to have done. The vocals are very powerful and very well placed in time. At no point do I ever think "he shouldn't be singing, I want to hear this riff" or even like I have though before "why are there vocals over this breakdown, it would have been brutal."

Thats another point, the breakdowns in this album that do exist, aren't over-done, or lame sounding. They don't pump them up either, where the bass gets deep, time slows down, and you think "oh shit here it comes," only to be let down.

All in all, this album is absolutely solid. Check it.

Album: 8 out of 10 zings.

Message to Band: Although this may be the first album I like from you, I completely respect experimentation and growth as a band. This album is solid, keep with following what you feel will make yourselves happy, and fuck the fans and public. After all, its your band, its about your music and your musical talent, not about what people want to hear.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Killswitch Engage - Killswitch Engage

Ever since I was a fan of metal/hardcore, there were a few bands I had always known about and had known of their music, or liked their music. Those bands included: Haste the Day, Everytime I Die, As I Lay Dying, Comeback Kid, and Killswitch Engage. Now, I cannot say that I have always been a huge fan of Killswitch (like I am of other bands, and have every song memorized), but I do know quite a few songs, and thoroughly enjoy them.

So when the new album was released, I immediately picked it up, and popped it into my car cd player. And off the bat, I can honestly say, I was impressed. The first two songs, I was in a mood to jam and hear some amazing lyrics and smooth instrumentals I had always associated with Killswitch Engage. However, as the cd progressed...a weird thing happened.

At this point let me say, this is going to be a short review, and you will soon find out why.

As the album progressed (meaning track 3 and so on), there didn't seem to be any defining sound, unique riffs, or insanely identifying lyrics. I started to actually get bored listening to this album. Actually, in the middle of the album, there are a couple of songs in which have instances (or mostly), drop the abrasive metal drumming and go into an older punk style of fast drumming.

Now, I am not adverse to punk music/drumming/etc at all. Infact, punk is how I got into the hardcore/metal/indie I am into now. I started off listening to Rancid, Transplants, Sex Pistols, NUFAN, Bodyjar, Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, The Unseen...and so on.

When it came down to this album containing what I was looking forward to, I was let down. The vocals are still right on, and I enjoy the sound of them, but it just didn't seem to match up this time for me.

Album: 4 out of 10 zings.

Message to Band: Just keep on thrashing and producing, this is the first album that I didn't like that much. Maybe its just my warped brain, or maybe the effort going in dropped, I'm not sure.

P.S. I fully intend on blogging more frequently, now that so much personal things I had to take care of are out of my way.