Another week has come where some new releases are at our doorstep. A good mix here between hip-hop, rock, soft rock, and of course the heavy stuff. Yesterday was a day to check out a few of the releases such as Black Stone Cherry and Tech N9ne. Both artists have not really had much of an effect on me so thought to give their material another try. The end result? Well, let's just say that "Me and Mary Jane" is most likely my summer anthem tune.
Other artists such as Xandria and Epica will round out this afternoon as I am always up for some symphonic rock/metal on a hump day afternoon. So that being said, I hope the majority of you make your way to a local record store or online retailer to check out a few of these albums as well. If digital is more your thing, then be sure to grab it from an authorized legal source. Cheers and enjoy the tunes!
(Sarah McLachlan - Shine On)
Shine On captures Sarah McLachlan at a period of transition, switching labels (she's signed with Verve after decades at Arista) and experiencing the death of her father and divorce from her husband. Some of this turbulence can be heard underneath the surface of Shine On -- explicitly so on "Song for My Father" and "Broken Heart," whose titles give their game away -- but the defining characteristic of this seventh McLachlan studio album is not despair but rather hope. Certainly, there is melancholy here -- a feeling that surfaces in the slower, gentler moments, the kind of sound that is heavily associated with McLachlan's mid-'90s hits -- but there's also a surprising, resilient buoyancy here, manifesting itself in big, ringing adult alternative pop tunes that pepper the album. Surrounding these songs -- the best of which are "In Your Shoes" and "Monsters" -- are those signature McLachlan swoons, the surprisingly soulful "Love Beside Me" and an effective, swinging coda called "The Sound That Love Makes" that's built on a simple ukulele but soon expands. Shine On, as a whole, has a similar trajectory; it starts from simple, sad emotions, then builds out into an embrace of love and life. -All Music
(Audiomachine - Phenomena)
Composed by Paul Dinletir, PHENOMENA was brought to life by 180 musicians in the heart of Air Lyndhurst Studio in London, with the powerful beat of 10 concurrent percussionists, a compelling choir of 80 voices and the commanding force of a 90 piece orchestra. Charged with emotional depth, PHENOMENA will capture the imagination and complement the core of every story. -CD Baby
(Tech N9ne - Strangeulation)
Thematically, much of the album is centered on Strange Music’s stringent independence and agency-assuming spirit. Strangeulation’s manifesto is declared in its opening lines, where a facetious Tech sings, “Smashes the masses, but the industry’s hatin’ asses.” Most of the proceeding songs form a rallying cry against mainstream and commercialized Hip Hop, with each member of Strange Music making a persuasive effort to prove that they’re going to be fine without the backing of a major label. The anti-mainstream attacks have a communal spirit, be it the four-part “Strangeulation” cyphers or gang vocals over the wailing guitar and driving stadium hook of lead single “Over It.” But the “fuck the industry” message so forcefully inscribed throughout the project is more effective when approached from an individual perspective; established names like Tech N9ne, Murs and Rittz offer more poignant reasons for going independent than up-and-comers like Ces Cru and Prozak. -Hip Hop DX
(Black Stone Cherry - Magic Mountain)
The album is maybe a couple of songs too long, with a few numbers very reminiscent to the sound of others and one could think a more tightly knit put together package could have been achieved with perhaps a touch more focus. Nevertheless, Magic Mountain is a fun listen and fans will no doubt enjoy the ride. It might not be the band’s landmark listening, but it is a welcome continuation of good riffs and powerful performances that are easy on the ears. -Renowned For Sound
(Xandria - Sacrificium)
Sacrificium is quite a cohesive album which must be listened to from start to finish through its hour plus running time to truly grasp its impact. There are no songs that pop out alone, but then again, that is the point of an album; cohesion and balance. The soprano singing of van Giersbergen’s is the perfect fit for Xandria, and is a formidable follow-up to Neverworld’s End (2012). Conceptually, the album clearly highlights all the elements of sound which Xandria fans love. While this is the case, growth and chemistry will naturally develop with van Giersbergen part of Xandria from this point moving forward making future releases even more eagerly awaited. Each song is extensive, which shows the band’s dedication and passion for music, instead of considering the radio-friendly lengths. Xandria knows their fans, and the solid efforts of Sacrificium confirms the bands place in the symphonic and gothic metal genres. -Cryptic Rock
(Arkona - Yav)
There are some really hard-going moments so I would say that this isn't for the faint of heart. The curtains are raised with opening track 'Zarozhdenie' which effortlessly passes the nine minute mark and presents progressive tendencies without breaking sweat. 'Na Strazhe Novyh Let' starts out fairly traditional with pace aplenty and putting the Metal firmly in the face of those who stand by and watch. Gradually the textures change as other instrumentation enters the equation. It proves to be one of several highlights on 'Yav'.
Although I had no idea what was going on throughout the numerous visits I made with this album, I always found a lot of enjoyment from 'Yav'. It spoke in various ways using the musical combinations, and mostly through the expressive voice of lead singer Masha "Scream" Arkhipova, who was husky and raw one moment, before adding whispers the next. -Metal Talk
(Epica - The Quantum Enigma)
In The Quantum Enigma, the past and present meet. Omen – The Ghoulish Malady exemplifies this perfectly. The chorus sounds fresh and modern, due to its straightforwardness. However, it also contains symphonics and rhythms that remind you of the debut, The Phantom Agony. The inspiration behind this renewed sound might be that the Dutch six piece worked with producer Joost van den Broek (ex – After Forever) for the first time, instead of Sascha Paeth (who was still involved in the pre-production process) or the fact that most songs were created through a team effort. In any case, Epica has turned to page to a new chapter. -Metal Exposure