No Fixed Address – Nickelback

Nickelback

Republic Records

Review by Suzi H

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Alright, Nickelback.  Lots of people hate them (hello! – Ed).  I’ve been publicly mocked on more than one occasion for liking Nickelback, but like them I do and have done since I first heard How you Remind Me more years ago than I want to think about, and The Long Road and All The Right Reasons have been in my personal top ten favourite albums since forever. Anyway, I’ve donned my flame retardant blanket in preparation for this review. (flame-thrower… ready! – Ed)

And that’s just to save me from my colleagues!

Hyperbole out of the way and let’s get down to business. No Fixed Abode is Nickelback’s eighth studio album, and their first release on Republic Records following their split from Roadrunner Records. It kicks off with the aggressively cheerful Million Miles An Hour. The opening riff is classic Nickelback and then there’s some weird synth dubbing effect going on which represents how the band might sound if they were in an 80′s cartoon. Anyway it’s a bizarrely pleasing combination and by the time the album’s segued into Edge Of A Revolution I’m headbanging away at my desk quite happily (what?! – Ed).

Nickelback are not known for their political lyrics. In fact they’re normally  heavily criticised for singing too much about sex, strippers, drinking too much and young male violence and posturing.  Edge of a Revolution is an amusing pot-shot at capitalism from a band who are routinely accused of being utterly unoriginal and mass produced (that’s what they are! – Ed).  Anyway, the riffs are rather enjoyable, and the lyrics made me giggle, so it’s a win as far as I’m concerned.

Next up we have the disgustingly commercial What Are You Waiting For. It’s like Bruno Mars Does A Big Rock Single. In fact, you know that week of every year of the X Factor where they do ‘Rock Night’ and spend the evening murdering perfectly good songs, who never did anything to deserve it? (*shudder* – Ed)  That’s what What Are You Waiting For I is and frankly, Chad and co. should know better. D- for that one boys (that’s more like it, Elfie! – Ed).

She Keeps Me Up is a dirty sexified rock song, mixed in with some really funky 70′s style beats.  I like it.  It’s classic Nickelback with a hint of Motown, and of course they’ve gone back to what they do best (definition applied loosely, mayhap? – Ed), which is singing about sex (…which is the nearest the majority of Nickelback fans will ever get! – Ed). I know people criticize Nickelback for the amount of time they spend singing about sex – more accurately about the fact they aren’t getting any or that when they are they shouldn’t be sleeping with the people they are – but really they’re very good at it, and they should just play to their strengths.

Make Me Believe Again, Satellite  and Get ‘Em Up are standard middle of the album filler tracks (you’ve just summed up their entire recorded output there, m’dear! – Ed).  There’s nothing wrong with them (so you say! – Ed), but as a long time listener I could match up the riffs in them to previously released Nickelback material and that’s a bit sad.  I swear hand on heart that the opening of Get Em Up is the same as the opening of Something in Your Mouth  from the Dark Horse album.

The Hammer’s Coming Down is the first moment where Nickelback break the mould on this album (can’t we just break the album? – Ed) – there’s a piano, and some strings and an opening that isn’t reliant on the sort of riffs that cowboy bars from movies are founded on.  It quickly peters out into another generic pop-rock song, with some vaguely uplifting orchestral bits.  Sadly it’s immediately followed by Miss You which my 11 year old, Bruno Mars obsessed daughter will like, and which I, not a fan of whistly chirpy tunes, dislike intensely.

No Fixed Address draws to a close with Got Me Runnin’ Round and Sister Sin which is exactly the sort of funked up, dirtied down commercial rock song I like for light listening. Until it gets half way through and then there’s a weird-assed rapping section that fits the song but is annoying. The final track Sister Sin is probably my favourite  from the album – it’s got a feel good beat (why has the image of Hugh Dennis popped into my head? – Ed), some nice backing vocals and lends itself to a nice groove in a dark club.

All in all No Fixed Address is exactly what you can expect from a commercial band like Nickelback. These guys aren’t trying to produce the best or most exciting rock music, they’re making commercial pop rock so that radio stations can play something that’s edgier than Taylor Swift and isn’t hip-hop. It’s not a terrible album – I’ll probably play it regularly for background music that won’t lead to my non-Metal husband and kids muttering about “all the growling and screaming”. It’s a bog standard, not very exciting release, and for that I am going to give it a boring, but respectable 2.5 stars out of five. If you don’t like Nickelback, you shouldn’t listen to it, and if you do, you’ll think it’s alright.

Although next time lads – stop listening to Bruno bloody Mars!!!

**½/5

(Who’s this Bruno Mars, by the way? – Ed)

In This Moment – Black Widow

In-This-Moment-Black-Widow

Atlantic Records

Review by Carl “DJ ThunderGod” Pickles

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

There’s no argument that In This Moment are one of those bands that tend to be something like Marmite – people seem to either love them or hate them.  Butcher Babies are another one of those type of bands.  Thing is, I LIKE Butcher Babies and think they are unfairly maligned.  I’ve got the same kind of feeling about In This Moment.  What I’ve heard, I’ve certainly not been turned off by and I am interested in hearing more.  Blood was pretty good.  How will Black Widow, the band’s latest effort (which arrived in my Amazon Music Player this morning) fare?

In the Wyrd Ways Rock Show Review tradition, let’s take it track by track, shall we?

Sex Metal Barbie lyrically is an obvious stab at Maria Brink‘s critics (if you remember, she was heavily criticized for the cover of the Whore single).  It’s probably something she got called somewhere in the media.

I absolutely adored the use of Black Sabbath‘s Iron Man-style string bends to the beginning of Big Bad Wolf.  Again, the Antichrist Superstar influence is incredibly strong here.  Same goes for the calmer, robotic groove of Dirty Pretty.  Maria Brink certainly proves that she actually can sing in this one, providing slinky vocals with a hint of Eartha Kitt(!) in the delivery during the verses.

Much more Industrial on the title track, Black Widow.  Good use of samples and electronic backbeats.

Sexual Hallucination sees a guest appearance from Brent Smith of Shinedown.  The effect is something like Donovan’s somewhat surprising appearance on Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies - unexpected, but works surprisingly well on what is effectively the album’s ballad.

The first single, Sick Like Me, is the biggest throwback to Blood, toning down the Industrial feel of the album so far.  It’s one of the album’s “safe” moments.  This is stuff we know they can do, and do well.

Bloody Creature Poster Girl has the twisted cabaret feel to it that In This Moment are so adept at creating.  Brink’s vocals bring to mind a predatory, demonic femme fatale.  Again, the Industrial tendencies are toned down, with strings creating a more organic, somewhat creepy feel.

A gentle piano opening on The Fighter, matched with a fragile, cracked vocal again brings to mind a twisted cabaret.  You can almost see Brink wearing a shimmering red sequinned dress with elbow-length gloves, picked out by a single spotlight.  When the rest of the band comes in, backed by a string arrangement, the song goes from small and intimate to a huge lighters-in-the-air arena ballad.  Very well done.  This shows huge confidence.

Bones brings back the Industrial/Manson influence, but with a more conventional air to the song.  Not quite as fearlessly pushing the envelope.  If anything, it’s a little too expected.  Still a very decent song, though.

Natural Born Sinner, again, is another decent song, but it does feel as if the band have taken their foot off the pedal somewhat.  It definitely feels like they’re holding back a little, which doesn’t really suit them.

Into The Darkness is a flesh-crawling spoken piece, ending with Brink wracked by sobs.  Hugely atmospheric, somewhat harrowing, leading into the brittle opening of the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a real tour de force.  A hugely effecting, emotional, intimate song.  Quite possibly the best song on the album.  Despite the fact it’s just a piano and a voice, it’s an incredibly powerful, intense piece of music.

While this one certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I found myself really enjoying the experience of the album.  It’s a very Modern Metal album.  Heavy, Industrial with assured performances from Brink, Howorth, Johnson, Hane and Weitzel.  This is a band who aren’t afraid to experiment, as they show throughout most of the running time.  The emotions are raw and powerful, especially on the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a truly effective and affecting piece of music.

To sum up, then, a very good album overall, a very angry album, reminiscent of Otep in a very good way.  It’s a strong step up from Blood, with some flashes of dark beauty and sheer brilliance.  The dark spirit of Marilyn Manson, back when he was the Antichrist Superstar, and at his best as far as I’m concerned, looms over this album to great effect.  On the whole, I’m actually quite sad to say that I can’t give it full marks (although I’d like to, almost purely on the potency of Out Of Hell) because of Natural Born Sinner and Bones, which I feel let the side down a little, so I’ll have to give it a…

****¾

Psychostick – IV: Revenge of the Vengeance

rotv_front_cover_final

Rock Ridge Music

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Psychostick are one of those rare beasts that practically defies pigeon-holing, or categorizing, or genre-defining- rather, they are genre-benders, if you will. They are not so much an “ordinary” Metal band. They refer to themselves as “comedy Hardcore Metal“, which will suffice for the moment if you need a tag for them. In my humble opinion, they are just as much life coaches as they are a band per se. To me they teach us life’s little lessons. For example, if “you feel alone/neglected? GROW A BEARD!!”. Granted, this seems to be their answer to many of life’s little dilemma’s. It is a song, after all. Not one unfamiliar to Psychostick fans, either – this track has appeared before. Psychostick, for those of you keeping track, are Rawrb on vocals, The J on guitars, Schmalex on drums and Matty J “Moose” on bass. They are from Tempe, Arizona and they can ROCK with the best of them.

They are also rather humorous.

Snippets of their craft are oftentimes heard between tunes proper, such as the nod to Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and down-tuning in H-Flat, or the movie house preview voice in the intro (title track) and Super Legit Official Teaser #2 Explode. There are also shorter tunes like Dogs Like Socks. Again, life lessons. Perhaps lessons that we’ve already learned, in some cases. Also on board are brief guest appearances by none other than the great Bill Manspeaker of Green Jello fame (NFSW, New to the Neighborhood and Trick or Treat). He appears to be on board for one reason in particular: to drop the F-bomb on numerous occasions, and generally to wreak havoc amongst his fellows by doing so! His return to the world of music gives me hope that we will soon see and hear another Green Jello outing!

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As for the tunes proper, there are several. The album itself contains 21 tracks in total, but as we can discern from above, some are more musical interludes than anything else. In President Rhino, we get a pedal-to-the-Metal slam about creatures in our political world. News interviews and elections ensue, of course, but one can’t help but wonder if the animal kingdom has other candidates to offer that might be a bit more, erm, subtle? We are also presented with quite possibly the heaviest song EVER (So Heavy). Though the heaviness factor may be a bit exaggerated, work with me on this one – Heavy features guttural, Cookie Monster-style vocals (he even says ‘WANT A COOKIE?‘ at one point), breakdowns, jams more akin to a Mexican standoff between guitar and drums, and a send-up of the song Shout to boot (“Stop the bass/Jog in place”).

Quack Kills is apparently an ode to being stalked by ducks. Evidently our subject was once “attacked” by a flock of these birds and hasn’t been able to shake it from his memory, or his life. He’s afraid, of course, but the voices pester him continuously, even urging him to “FEED the ducks. He goes to see a shrink, and – you guessed it – he’s also a duck! Vocal breakdowns and jams abound, but one gets the impression that the ducks have won this one…

Blue Screen, intriguingly enough, is an ode to the subject’s love for his computer! It is a showcase for the bass prowess of Moose, as are several of the tracks on board, and is also just a really wicked jam in general. There is a brief guitar solo (1:25), but for the most part it is a computer blues/rock of sorts. This particular malady is probably a nightmare for many of our readers, especially when the PC breaks down completely, and has to be reset from the beginning. I am speaking from the voice of experience in this particular case, and am reminded that hard drives are NOT miracles of tech that should be taken for granted! To suggest that we are IN love with our PC’s (“formatting my heart/in partition dead in two”) may be taking things a bit too far, you might say? Perhaps. Just wait until you wake up to this some morning, then you tell me!

NFSW, for lack of a better summary, is an ode to the word fuck. Those of you in the know will recognize the word as an elusive one, as it can function as almost any type of word (noun, verb, pronoun, etc.). For this particular number, there ARE no other lyrics, save for a SHIT at the close. As it should be!

This brings us to a cover of the Kenny Loggins‘ tune, Danger Zone. Why, you might ask? Precisely the question that was on my mind. Hearing it actually reminded me of the Tom Cruise movie from whence it came (Days of Thunder), and this is a fairly traditional/faithful cover, save for the ending, when things sort of fall apart. Before it is all over, we begin to realize that a send-up of Take My Breath Away has ensued. Again, I am forced to wonder why?

Loathe Thy Neighbor features some intriguing lyrics (Get off my ass/Go back in your home/Close your blinds/Lock your doors/Stay in your home/Leave me alone) and more super-cool bass work! AWESOME is just that – a list of things that are awesome, and how the subject wants all of these awesome things to be given to him! Of course, the not-so-awesome things you can keep. Among the awesome items? Monster trucks (of course), bubble wrap (kind of awesome), blow jobs, staplers (??), fighter jets, and nachos!

Choking Hazard is another of life’s little lessons, only this time we are taught about how to save one of our fellows should they succumb to this particular malady. In fact, instructions (Steps 1,2 and 3) are even given!  The Heimlich Manoeuvre ensues, as well as a discussion on blues and purples. Lesson learned here is to take it easy with cheese pizza!

Fight to the Death may appear silly to some, especially when it is learned what items are being fought over. First it is over the last slice of pizza, which is understandable. The last can of beer in the fridge is also something which I’ve seen fisticuffs over. However, dishes in the sink, and getting the mail? I don’t see these as worthy of mortal combat, but maybe it’s just me! In the end, it’s just a ‘fight to the death over various stuff‘, so again we see structure breaking down right before our eyes. Perhaps a fight over structure, then?

Bruce Campbell is about “the finest man to grace the silver screen”. Our hero was, of course, the star of one of my all-time favourite movies, Army of Darkness. This song gives me a distinct stalker vibe, as our subject is obviously more than just enamored by our hero. A kazoo solo/breakdown of sorts brings me to realize that I’ve indeed heard it all. In the end we see our subject building a town in Sir Bruce’s honour. What’s the name of this fair city? Why, BruceCampbellville, of course!

Dimensional Time Portal is something that has probably crossed every Metalhead’s mind; the prospect that some alien force could actually invade our world and affect our females’ libidos!  Should we nuke it?  The phenomena takes place during an outdoor music festival, and in the end our heroes close the rift in time with Metal. A fitting end to an incomparable disaster! This track is actually sort of a companion piece to the tune that follows, the mighty track The Power of Metal Compels You. It includes a sweet thrashing riff (guitar and drums) intro, some serious bass playing, and a Ghostbusters reference, of all things. There is also an official victory breakdown, and some brief TV news lady blurb again. In the end, though our heroes assume they have saved the world, we DO hear a big bomb going off…

The outtakes (IV – the Outtakening) is brought to you by Psychostick Industries, purveyor of ‘stupid Metal songs’. It is vaguely humorous, if nothing else. This is just a sampling of what Psychostick do best – making you laugh while they jam their asses off!

*****/5

Sister Sin – Black Lotus

Sister Sin Black Lotus cover

Victory Records

Review by Carl

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Let’s just put it out there – Sister Sin are probably the best “proper” Heavy Metal band you’ve never heard of.  That in itself is something of a crime, especially when you consider this Swedish foursome have just released their fourth album, which you are about to be reading a review of.

So who are they, then?

Sister Sin formed in Gothenburg in 2002 and have released five albums (Dance Of The Wicked, Switchblade Serenades, True Sound Of The Underground, Now And Forever and now this one).  They’ve also toured with the likes of Arch Enemy, Alice Cooper, Motörhead, Michael Schenker, Lordi, In This Moment and U.D.O as well as releasing a single with Doro Pesch.

So they’ve been around the block a few times and they’ve earned their stripes.  What about the album, then?

It’s good.  It’s VERY good.  Liv has a damned fine set of pipes, in a similar vein to Veronica Freeman of Benedictum and Manowar’s Eric Adams, producing a powerful throaty roar that makes you sit up and take notice.  Guitarist, Jimmy, is all pent-up fury.  Tight, muscular riffs and short, sharp solos.  The rhythm section of Dave (drums) and Strandh (bass) nail it all to the floor.  Solid as the proverbial rock.

Want to know about the songs?  OK.  Here we go:

The band are snarling and growling straight out of the gate.  Food For Worms makes an aggressive start with a blistering solo.  Liv starts as she means to go on, setting out her stall for the rest of the album with her powerful, gritty vocals.

The single (you can watch the video below), Chaos Royale, is a bit of an odd one.  Again, plenty of aggression, but punctuated with some seemingly odd time changes… That is until you recall the name of the song, and suddenly it all makes sense.  A touch of musical chaos means the song itself couldn’t be more fitting.

Au Reviour keeps up the breakneck pace.  If you haven’t at least nodded along to part of one of these songs, your ears need checking.  This one is the first to have a huge chorus.  You’ll be singing along by the third one.

There’s a slight drop in pace, with the momentum exchanged for intensity when it comes to Desert Queen.  The slightly spooky intro opens up into a huge groove and lyrics somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s writings.  Mentions of “ravens” and “scarlet”.  This is another one that you can’t help but move to some way.  There’s also a very nice use of sepulchral keyboards, sounding like the kind of church organ you get in a cathedral.  Makes a nice change from a Hammond B3!

Count Me Out is a break-up song.  Not one of those mopey ones, mind.  The anger pouring out of this one is almost palpable.  “Stay the fuck away from me/Out of sight and mind”.  A little bit of strings to add colour, strangely enough not out of place, leading into rather a nice solo.

The pace goes back up again for Stones Thrown, which boasts another massive chorus.

From what we’ve heard so far, The Jinx is a bit of a surprise.  Acoustic guitar at the beginning tells you all you need to know… it’s the ballad!  Liv shows that she really can sing… although it’s pretty obvious she’s still pretty annoyed!

Ruled By None is a potential set-closer.  Certainly it’s going to be a live favourite.  It’s a big song with gang vocals on the chorus, matched to the infectious enthusiasm exhibited right the way through this one.  Sister Sin really do have the chops to go all the way.

It would have been very easy to let this album fade out there and finish with another ballad, or just not add another song.  Instead, there’s Sail North, a thundering duet featuring Liv and… well… not sure, but the credits say “Vocal sample on Sail North by Eddie Meduza (RIP)”, but there seems to be more than a sample here.

Final verdict?  It’s a good one.  Bloody excellent, really.  No weak tracks at all and no pointless noodling or excessive fiddling.  OK, I could have done without the ballad, but that’s pretty much the only thing that stops this album getting full marks.  As it is, it’s definitely in the upper reaches of my best albums of the year so far.

****½

Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds

Bloodstone_&_Diamonds_album_cover

Nuclear Blast

Review by: Cat A

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

There is one question that surfaced the moment Machine Head released news of their last two albums – “can it match up to The Blackening?” Leaked tracks by one retailer and the subsequent release on the official Nuclear Blast site gave us an early insight into what we were likely to expect. Now I feel that I must write a disclaimer here; I am a massive Machine Head fan and was at one of those intimate shows that sold out in about twenty minutes back in August. I have even been known to listen to Supercharger of my own free will, though I don’t say that too loudly. Needless to say, when I got my hands on  this eagerly anticipated eighth full length studio album I was more than a little bit eager.

In a nutshell for those who don’t feel like reading to the bottom of the track by track breakdown, Bloodstone and Diamonds is like all of the previous Machine Head albums had their signature elements plucked out and mashed together to try and define the band’s signature sound after the high profile line-up change. Jahred MacEachern does seem to have added a new energy to the mixture on bass, and Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel are tighter than ever with the guitar work and the extra time and money spent on production shows, though some may feel that they are stepping away from their roots and overproducing some of the vocals in particular. It’s not perfect, but there are added dimensions from the addition of strings, pianos and backing vocals of styles not normally seen in Metal.

On to the track by track:

Now We Die – the well chosen opener that has been available for a few weeks soothes you in to the latest offering with some beautifully arranged strings.  I close my eyes and I can feel myself at the front of one of their shows, horns in the air as I scream along to the chorus.  There are all the elements that one would expect when listening to the Bay Area Metallers; heavy as hell breakdown, Flynn’s yells before a solo that wouldn’t sound out of order on The Blackening, and those guitar harmonies between Flynn and Demmel, who then throw a powerful, goosebump raising section where the strings layer on the emotion before a final power through the chorus.

Killers and Kings picks up the pace further, and it sounds as if it could have come straight from their debut with those guitar squeals (listen to it and you’ll know exactly what I mean) that scream Machine Fuckin’ Head. It’s not my favourite track on the album by far, but it’s solid and could almost be an entry in the textbook of how to write a Metal song. Keep a listen out for how many different tarot cards are named in this one…

Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones follows; Think the introduction to Imperium with less distortion and an almost electronic sound, then add in some of the dirty bass from Through The Ashes of Empires and the haunting vocal style that is heard on The Burning Red and end it with the anger from Days Turn Blue To Gray and you’re approaching what you hear from this. Many people will disagree with me, but this is one of the top three for me on this offering.

Of all the tracks on Bloodstone and Diamonds, Night of the Long Knives is the one that I am unsure about, mostly because the introduction does nothing for me. It’s not a bad song, but I don’t feel like its anything special. There’s always one like that for me. Chop the intro and outtro from it and I’d probably feel differently but it is very easy to sing along with the disturbing lyrics.

Low vocal droning with some stunning melodies are overlaid by a single line before an acoustic guitar and piano pick up the pace of Sail Into The Black. It’s not unusual to get a song that isn’t easily labelled as Metal on a Machine Head album, and at first this appears to be the song that doesn’t fit for three minutes, but then just as you think that the song is over, electric guitar blares from nowhere and takes the intensity to a whole different level, though the first chords do manage to sound an awful lot like a Limp Bizkit song (*shudder* – Ed).

Circle pit. That’s the first thought that comes into my head as Eyes of the Dead kicks in, though it does in places remind me of Pearls Before The Swine, though the chorus is a completely different feel, and I have to say… groovy. Beneath the Silt starts dirty, and the bassline continues beneath the somewhat odd vocals, and the chorus is anything but Metal, but it sure as hell is catchy even if the solo is one of those that feel forced into the song and it ends with some of Flynn’s heavy breathing.

The politics becomes blatant in Here Comes the Flood, which appears to be a direct attack at the banking and economic system in America. There’s an amusing play on words with the line ‘Moneytheistic religion” and direct calls for their country to wake up. It’s a decent song, but despite the usual Machine Head signatures, it feels just a bit too mainstream and poppy. There then follows some more lamentation as Damage Inside lets you take a quick breather.

Did you ever expect to hear any Punk on a Machine Head album?  Well, the chorus of Game Over had me wanting to break out the baggy trousers and start skanking, but it doesn’t feel out of place.  There’s some very clever riffs that keep it “Metal enough” to fit, even during those slow breakdown sections that force the focus onto the lyrics. The politic vibe continues with the soundbytes over the top of Imaginal Cells, speaking of climate change, social disorder, religion and many more issues, over the top of an instrumental that more than any other song on Bloodstone and Diamonds could have come straight from Unto the Locust, in fact very much like Locust itself. I suspect that this will be the intermission track on the album release tour.

The finale of Take Me Through the Fire is a good send off to an album, and it’s a classic Machine Head song to take us full circle through the more experimental sections of this album. In answer to my question at the top of this review, no Bloodstone and Diamonds is very much not The Blackening, but that isn’t to say that it is not a good Machine Head album.  There are going, as ever, to be cries of selling out and going mainstream, but I think the fans will turn out at shows and scream these lyrics with as much fervour as Locust and Old. Technically excellent, I disagree with Flynn’s proclamation that this is their most heavy and brutal offering, but it’s still a solid album and had it come from a band without an album like The Blackening behind them, it would have been far more impressive, but as a Machine Head fan I can’t help  but feel that they’re not quite there, or they’re trying a little too hard to be different. Still, it’s one of my albums of 2014, and will be given a lot of play time in my ears.

Rating: ****/5

Crobot – Something Supernatural

crobotalbumcover

Wind-Up Records

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

Review by Rick Ossian

On first listen to this record, I was blown away completely. Not that that doesn’t happen every now and then, but these boys can really jam! Hailing from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, these four fellows have crafted a fine and funky hard rock LP (only slightly preceded by a 4-song EP) in the vein of heroes such as Clutch, Monster Magnet and The Eagles of Death Metal, amongst others. Crobot are comprised of members Brandon Yeagley (vocals and harp), Bishop (guitar and vocals) and the Figueroa brothers, Jake on the bass and Paul on the drums. Not only will you be transported in time (most likely back to about 74 or so) when you hear this set — you will not be able to stop yourself from rocking out! Have no fear, dear reader; I know I tend to exaggerate occasionally. Trust me on this one, go out and purchase the Mp3 or the CD AS SOON AS YOU CAN (take a look above for links – Ed). You will not regret it!
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Legend of the Spacebourne Killer is up first, and it is also the single from this collection. Imagine if you will a track that is just as much 70′s psych as it is hard rock and funky. I envisioned four blokes with low-slung guitars and clinging to their instruments with no small amount of excitement. Although it is, in my opinion, FAR too short (as are the rest of the tracks), their is some pretty intense stuff here. Check out the brief guitar snippet at the 2-minute mark.

When you hear Nowhere To Hide, hang on for dear life! The chops will indicate, again, a naturally swinging heavy 70′s groove, and at this point the guitar solo that comes in (again at 2:00) is soaked in wah/crybaby FX. It is the sort of tune that will make you want to stand up!

Track number three is another energetic, guitar/bass/drum-filled slam, and it is titled The Necromancer. Harmonica and drums assault us at the outset, and the entire presentation is totally high energy, so no surprise there. The vibe seems familiar enough, but like so many others, it sounds like something or someone you’ve heard before – you just can’t put your finger on who or where or what. The harmonica makes a return at the two-minute mark, and at the close all stop, with a bit of feedback. A classic, to be sure!

La Mano De Lucifer comes in at number 4, and starts life as a slow blues, with a wicked lead snipped at the intro. I was drawn towards some of the lyrics, so allow me to share: “A failed rebellion/Against the one true creator/Exiled to the fire/Better to reign in hell/Than to serve God’s will“. The bass reminds us who’s boss at about 1:10, then things kick in immediately afterwards, turning what might have been a ‘slow blues’ into a ham-fisted, fury-filled anthem! Kudos to the boys for taking on the subject of religion, by the way. Nowadays, it seems everybody loves that and politics for their topics (my two LEAST favorite subjects).

The Skull of Geronimo is my personal fave up to this point. It is, as before, drenched in heavy 70′s funky psych. At 1:45 there is a downshift to what I will deem ‘warrior blues’. At one point Brandon bellows “we’ll keep our secrets in hell!” Great stuff.

Cloud Spiller is in a similar vein as Skull, plus there’s a succubus! Gotta love that, right. Questionable lyrics aside (Heart so heavy/Like a broken down levee), this is a punk/pop/funk/heavy metal explosion! Enjoy with the volume up if you dare!

Fly On the Wall attempts to sucker us in again with a faux slow blues intro, then WHAM! To the back of your seat, if you please! The vocal delivery is a sly, smoothly super-charged energetic one, and the title of the LP comes into play on a few occasions. The riffs can only be described as chops, as they sound extremely choppy. There is a quirky guitar interlude of sorts (1:30), and again the proceedings conclude just as we were starting to dig the groove! Any of these tracks, for that matter, could have contained a brief psychedelic jam about mid-way or so…

I thought for sure that Night of the Sacrifice was going to jump off of my PC and live on its own. It is so fresh, and energetic, it will tear your head off if you let it! More funk and heaviness simultaneously, again, so no real diversion from the formula, but when it’s not broke, don’t fix it! Again, I was drawn to the prophetic lyrics; “NOW YOU’RE GONNA DIE/Step right up don’t be shy/Your senses will collide/Smoke and blood/No one gets out alive”. This is a declaration, heralding funky, heavy rock again and again. At 2:00, there is another wah/crybaby-soaked guitar solo that again practically jumps out of the speakers at you, and then, like magic, it’s over!

Chupacabra (“Monster of Mexico“) features a scraping guitar intro with some serious chops again. The story itself features “300 dead sheep/Victims of the creature/I found that dirt-sucker down by the river“. The lead guitar solo (2:20) is soaked in FX again, and the tune itself provides a lovely power-packed punch for all!

Wizards is a slamming, chopping chord-fest again. Loving it, just wish it was longer!

Queen of the Light is one of the longer numbers (along with La Mano de Lucifer), and features a bit more subtle of an intro. It is longer, and more introspective – which comes with length, of course. The vibe here is spooky, almost menacing at times, but features some cool lyrics along with the creepy vocal delivery: “King of the Damned/Still singing the same old dead song/ Brimstone bride/The grass is always burning on the other side.” At 3:00 and at 3:30 there are the wah guitar solos again, at this point a mainstay.

To sum up, then? Crobot are a twisting, turning, churning, heavy psych funk machine that gets pretty fast sometimes…If this is your kind of music, then you have hit the jackpot!

*****/5

Viathyn – Cynosure

viathyncynosurealbumcover

Asher Media

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the MP3 HERE

Viathyn are Tomislav Crnkovic (vocals and guitar), Jacob Wright (lead guitar), Dave Crnkovic (drums) and Alex Kot (bass).  This is their second album, following 2010′s The Peregrine Way and the 2008 instrumental EP, Demagogue.

From the slamming heraldry of the opener, Ageless Stranger, it is immediately apparent that Calgary‘s Viathyn are prog thrash of the highest order, dripping in majesty and dramatic arrangements.  Said opener features some seriously shredding drums and guitar, as well as angelic vocals.  There is more pomp and circumstance than anything else, and one must wonder whether they are taking themselves too seriously, or if they are delivering these tracks with a bit of tongue in cheek..?

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The Coachman is up next, and though it is considerably shorter than the rest of the tracks on offer here (a mere 5:41), it thrashes merrily along with more shredding lead guitar solos (3:30) and growling vocals (3:00), as well as a classical music-style closing.

Edward Mordrake is a bizarre tune indeed, but what makes it even more so is its subject matter.  Seems Mr. M. is one of a handful of folks who had an extra head/face, somewhat akin to Professor Quirrell/Voldemort in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.  It is, as the opener was, majestic – almost pompous in its grandeur.  The lyrics suggest we ‘drink to our collective health‘ (and probably be thankful that we’re NOT like Ed).  At the 3-minute mark there is a vocal interlude of sorts. Some very fast tempo(s) here, especially around 3:30.  There is the obligatory shredding lead guitar solo at 3:55, and some shifting of gears at 4:20.  At 5:30 there is more shredding lead guitar, almost a bouncy shred, if you will!

Shadows In Our Wake is presumably about trees. The lyrics suggest this on more than one occasion: “When we were trees/When we were roots/When we fell/When we grew”.  This track features the standard metal shred rhythm intro, as well as more of the bobbing, bouncy melodic guitar stuff.  At 4 minutes in there is a triumphant vocal return, and a Blackmore-style guitar solo from 4:45 till 5:30.

Countess of Discordia (what a title!) features big bass guitar on the intro and some Steve Vai-style guitar noodling.  There is grandeur and majesty again, this time mainly on the guitar.  I caught myself jamming on air guitar trying to keep up with the speediness of the rhythm. only to fail resoundingly!  There is a band ‘solo’ jam of sorts, if that were possible, and some serious shredding throughout.

Time Will Take Us All is a vocal AND instrumental tour-de-force, including a singing and atmospheric guitar intro, some shifting of gears (2:10), and even faster around the 3-minute mark.  Some shredding guitar and wickedly busy drum work ensue.

Three Sheets to the Wind (another great title by the way) is guitar-heavy again, this time with a Scottish vibe of sorts. Almost a metal version of Big Country, if you can imagine that! I kept wondering when the bagpipes were going to kick in…There is a very neat solo at 4:15, as well as some bass at about 3:30.  Glasses tinkling at the end sort of bring home the alcoholic intent of the title.

Albedo features more of the same, shredding riffery at the opening with drums.  The lead and rhythm guitar reminded this writer of Yngwie Malmsteen, among others.  More gear shifting (2:20), more busy drumming (3:45), more piano (4:30), and a shift to ‘storyteller’ mode at 4:50.  It is mellow.  The guitar almost sounds like a saxophone.

The title track and closer, Cynosure, is about someone who likes to be ‘the centre of attention or admiration‘. There is a HOLY CRAP sort of intro here, which suggests that they may have saved the best tune for last.  Several shifts/speeds ensue, as well as some major shredding lead guitar work.  There is another band ‘solo’ jam, if you will, at about the 7:20 mark, and before we know what hit us, it’s all over.  Eight leviathan jams, and one not-so-large, but still worthy.  Good stuff.

****/5