It's a lovely release day here in Toronto! The sun is shining, the amps are warming up, the drums are being freshly tweaked...and I am here typing away about all the awesome new albums hitting shelves today! Rock has got you covered. Saga, Fozzy, and YES will have some old school big rock sound to go along with their epic ballads and heavy riffs. Common and Hed PE bring the groove to this week's releases, while we also say goodbye to Anberlin as they release their final installment as a band.
(Saga - Saga City)
The only problem with Saga and Sagacity? They already have so many classic tracks and albums. They're fighting their own legacy so to speak and it's always difficult to please everybody. Damn solid and fine effort as always though. Or as Michael Sadler puts it: "For me this album marks a return to many of the signature elements that put Saga on the map at the onset of the band's career, while maintaining a firm grip on the here and now. The balance between past, present and future is the key and I think that's what we've managed to achieve. Quite simply, this is Saga... 2014"! -Rock United Reviews
(Fozzy - Do You Wanna Start A War)
Outside of those two missteps however, Do You Want to Start a War is great at showing just how good the band is getting. "One Crazed Anarchist" is a gritty, tough number with solid vocal contributions from Jericho and Ward and a touch of electro-distortion that rears its head a little louder in the late-stage breakdown. It's a remarkably complex song musically and in terms of production value and helps the LP prove that Fozzy has managed to sneak up on the hard rock genre and turn into one of the more enjoyable acts working in it today. -411 Mania
(YES - Heaven & Earth)
It’s no surprise that the LP’s highlights are more epic in scope, with flowery arrangements and plenty of instrumental fireworks. ’Light of the Ages’ is a shape-shifting gem, built on a lush Howe steel guitar that pings into the atmosphere. And the grand finale, the nine-minute ’Subway Walls,’ is the band’s finest prog epic since ‘Machine Messiah’ all the way back on 1980′s ‘Drama.’ It evolves from classical-quoting filigrees to math-funk madness (partially in 17/8) to a galloping coda with Squire and Davison harmonizing the word “Transcend” like two knights charging into battle.
Yes, ‘Heaven & Earth’ has its issues — it’s often tentative and sonically flat. But it also proves that, 47 years into their singular career, they’re still capable of greatness. -Ultimate Classic Rock
(Anberlin - Lowborn)
The band re-signed with Tooth & Nail Records for this release, and it's a homecoming that feels right. Lowborn is a far more intricate album than Anberlin's debut (and in many ways it doesn't feel like a standard Tooth & Nail release at all), but it demonstrates just how much the band has grown in over a decade's worth of experience. The band values the journey, however, and all parts of the band's history are represented as a result.
Above all, the band knows they are finite. But they also know that their music lives beyond themselves, making an album like Lowborn that much more special. It's a complete album in every sense, and the creative process that's present here marks a seasoned band that has diversified themselves in fine ways. Anberlin may be done, but their legacy is intact, and Lowborn celebrates that notion in a fitting farewell. -Jesus Freak Hideout
(Common - Nobody's Smiling)
After 10 albums, Common has one of the most compelling discographies in Hip Hop, in part thanks to this type of streamlined tracklist. Even his utterly skippable mishaps were cases of trying something new to him. Nobody’s Smiling is defiant, as full of commanding musicality as it is of Common’s own provocation. Of his recent output, it deserves to be the most touted since that 2005 darling. It’s one of his best since he started, and like the album itself does about Chicago’s current crisis, that says plenty. -Hip Hop DX
(Hed PE - Evolution)
'Evolution' is the band's ninth studio album, its first since 2010's 'Truth Rising', and is, arguably, the best thing released under the Hed PE (and many name variations) banner since their third, and breakout, album, 'Blackout', in 2003.
That's a bold claim, granted, but this new album really does hit every mark required, going so far as to hit several more that I never thought it would, realistically, reach or even make a grab for.
It could be that time is ripe for the reinjection of Hed PE's subgenre fusion into pop culture; possibly because bands like Skindred have made the rock/rasta mash-up more accessible - either way, 'Evolution' is a dozen-song-strong monster chomping at the bit, waiting to be unleashed onto an (admittedly unprepared and) unsuspecting public. -Uber Rock
The of course we move onto my bread and butter. I am very much looking forward to the new Overkill album, as well as Ill Nino and War of Ages. I have been following this new Overkill album a little more closely than others and so far (with respect to the singles) I have no complaints. Being that I am seeing Ill Nino on Friday (and I just caught WoA back in March) I am very excited to see what song from the new album they are going to use to set the place off! I haven't caught them in concert since their visit to London, ON while on tour with Disturbed (September 6th, 2005).
(Overkill - White Devil Armory)
Nothing on album seventeen is different than the sixteenth or fifteenth, and that may be a blessing or a curse depending on your individual tastes. It’s simply more gritty, rowdy, street-level speed metal from a band that’s been doing it forever and a day. It sure ain’t original, but it’s as violent as Hurricane Sandy and full of piss, vinegar and pastrami, just like the guys who created it. It’s also some of their most rabid and acid-drenched material in years, and that’s really saying something.
Ladies and gents, this is one bona fide bad ass album. Not a weak track anywhere, just in-your-face, confrontational smack talk metal designed to make the drunk asshole throw the first punch. What else do you want (or expect) from a New Jersey band? Shit just got very real. -Angry Metal Guy
(Ill Nino - Till Death, La Familia)
The attitude and aggression is evident in front man Cristian Machado’s voice from the first vocal to the last and the rest of the band is as heavy complimenting the sound.
These guys could take the easy way out and rest on their laurels, but in a cut throat music world of here today, gone tomorrow, they are digging in with their past, yet with an eye to the future – all with the love and support of their fans, whom they all feel are truly part of the Ill Nino La Familia. -100% Rock Magazine
(War of Ages - Supreme Chaos)
The album is still very much WAR OF AGES in tone and sound, I guess the best description for the new sound would be ‘post-metalcore’. It’s very heavy, and not only adds melody in the crunching breakdowns and vicious riffage, but ensures that the melody is carefully crafted and brutally original. The vocals are still predominantly belted out to an almost ‘rap metal’ pattern, with each verse ending in a mighty bellow to carry you to the next riff or verse.
I really love this album. It takes the lessons learned from the band’s entire back catalogue and steps up the game. WAR OF AGES have now delivered a benchmark album that comes across as very intentional in method and delivery, whilst still allowing for rapturous explosions of inspiration. This album will have existing fans of the band’s leading metalcore sound baying for more and winning new audiences from either sides of the metalcore metal fan spectrum. -Christian Metal Bro Alliance
That mixed with the new releases of Dog Fashion Disco, Crown The Empire, Fallujah, and Within The Ruins makes for an epic listening session this week/weekend! Let's not forget that single EP at the bottom of the page either, as Four Year Strong release their first batch of material since 2011's "In Some Way, Shape or Form".
So the usual banter folks. Go buy an album at a local record store or online retailer. If digital is more savvy, then purchase it from an authorized source. Cheers and have a great week!
(Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings)
The album seems to be incorporating an army of horns with a marching band of varying keyboard tones ranging from harmonious organs to reverberating xylophone keys. Todd Smith once again provides the fist-pumping choruses and catchy lyrics written like a demonic children’s book. The guitars are fast and merciless while the drumming keeps up the frantic pace. The album transitions to soulful breakdowns quite well hinting that the time off may have reinforced a goal towards quality disorder.
The members of Dog Fashion Disco have once again combined a collection of personal music tastes and warped ideas to create a fluid album that skips delightfully through every psychosis in the medical book. It’s rekindled my love for music with no rules or boundaries. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for some, this music clicks on all the right cylinders. “Sweet Nothings” is an ominous trip through aggression, despair, love and loss, but with another album on the horizon, the future looks bright for Dog Fashion Disco. -Media Mikes
(Crown The Empire - The Resistance: Rise of The Runaways)
Rise of the Runaways is an album of fair size, and therefore offers plenty of content. Fans of the last two albums will find that Crown the Empire are gradually trying to expand upon their formula here, and it does work for the most part (though the band does still need a little more growth in their writing styles to better combine twisting elements). Personally, I think The Fallout may have been slightly more enjoyable, but The Resistance is also certainly a worthy release for its scene. Crown the Empire are most definitely talented musicians, and they could be onto something here. Maybe in an album or two, they’ll become unstoppable. We’ll just have to wait and see. -New Noise Magazine
(Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails)
Fallujah pulls from a strange bag of tricks and smashes them together. The combination of death metal with a lot of post-y elements, including some borrowed from that end of the Black Metal spectrum, has cemented a sound I would argue is recognizably Fallujah, signature in nature.
Fallujah are definitely trying to carve a niche for themselves, creating an ambience-heavy tech-death sound that has kept me coming back for more. I love what these guys are doing and can’t wait to see what comes next. I’d be picking this up if I were you. It’s masterfully composed modern tech-death. -No Clean Singing
(Within The Ruins - Phenomena)
Phenomena shows Within the Ruins becoming comfortable in their niche that they established with Elite. Songs like ‘Hegira’ and ‘Clockwork’ show that they can combine the heavy bounce with riffs that engage and intrigue the listener. These are just two examples, though. The album is chock full of crushing, chopped-up breakdowns and wonky melodies that will make your head spin. ‘The Other’ and ‘Ronin’ have mind-bending, head-nodding breakdowns that can’t be touched by other bands. ‘Enigma’ and ‘Ataxia III’ are excellent instrumentals that keep pushing forward and refuse to slow down. The former has musical nods to gaming legend Mario and possibly Inspector Gadget. The latter is without a doubt the best entry in the Ataxia series so far. ‘Eternal Shore’ and ‘Sentinel’ have ignorantly heavy breakdowns that will make you want to bounce up and down wherever you may be at the time of listening. Instrumentally, this record is a driving force to be reckoned with. -Heavy Blog Is Heavy
(Four Year Strong - Go Down In History)
The five-song EP (their first release with new label Pure Noise Records) is a tantalizing taste of what’s hopefully to come when FYS drop their next full-length. The tempos are turbocharged; the guitar riffs intricate and unexpected. The EP has that undeniable energy of the band’s earlier records, yet the production glistens like FYS were still on a major label. Drummer Jake Massucco and bassist Joe Weiss blast rhythms with over-caffeinated East Coast fury and the group’s songwriting core—vocalists/guitarists Alan Day and Dan O’Connor—seem to have rekindled their sheer love of musically ripping people’s faces off. We even get to enjoy some old-school FYS gang vocals, like the soaring refrain that bookends the EP’s title track, reminiscent of “Enemy Of The World.” These are all excellent things. -Alt Press