Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Music Releases For July 8th, 2014

Welcome back to Tuesday release day folks.  While on vacation the past few weeks, the posts have become a bit laxed.  Like I have said numerous times, it tends to be that way when you have a blog and need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life.  So back at it this week, I am going to have a great time spinning some highly anticipated albums.  First on my list will definitely have to be Monuments, Judas Priest, Chelsea Grin and Ministry.  While all seem quite heavy they have been on my wish list for some time and have enjoyed previous releases from them.

(Monuments - The Amanuensis)

The Amanunensis is bold, brash and thoroughly infectious. It delivers in full on the promises made by Gnosis and points to an even richer future ahead of the band, hopefully drawing a line under their somewhat tumultuous past.

What we have here is the sound of Monuments coming of age. With this second album, their place in the pantheon of great British tech-metal bands is assured. Whilst there are hints that suggest there are still greater things to come from them in the future, there’s no reason not to see The Amanunensis as the must-have, feel-good metal hit of the summer. -The Monolith

(Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls)

If this review seems especially insistent on drawing comparisons between individual albums, it's because the band themselves seem to make a concerted effort to be all things to all fans, with a very blatant self-conscious insurance that all album eras are properly represented here. Truly the only epochs absent on Redeemer of Souls are the poodle rock shenanigans of Turbo and the hippie dippie boogie hangover of Rocka Rolla (the Tim Owens groove metal years are gratefully overlooked as well).

All in all, Judas Priest have acquitted themselves admirably with Redeemer of Souls. If there's one gripe to be had it's that they continue their post-reunion streak of not having any obvious classics that jump out at you and cement their place in the canon immediately… no hooks here as electrifying or bulletproof classic as "Breaking the Law" or "The Ripper", unfortunately. On the other hand, there's something to be said for putting together an album of this breadth that is devoid of true clunkers. Having talents as specific as Priest's enable them to laser focus in on what they do best, which is bombastic-yet-simple anthems that sound just as great in concert as they do on a shitty car stereo. Horns in the air, bitches. -Metal Injection

(Chelsea Grin - Ashes To Ashes)

So, it’s an album for your every day deathcore fan, which there seems to be many across Australia and all around the globe. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ certainly pulls all the right moves, it hits all the right nails on the head; the songs are quite strong, the production is slick, and their playing and musicianship is razor sharp.  The lover of progressive and symphonic heaviness in me is a little disappointed; I’m feeling that this is somewhat of a lost opportunity. However, I am just one bloke, one reviewer giving an opinion.

As stated, deathcore has millions of fans around the world, and many of them will enjoy the hell out of this album. Leaving my own slight disappointment aside for a second, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is a beast of a deathcore album, by one of the great perpetrators of the sub-genre. -SF Media

I am already anticipating decent reviews for Sonic Syndicate, Wednesday 13, and Amberian Dawn as they all seem to have some consistency with their releases.  Mind you, this will mark the first album not featuring Sonic Syndicate members Richard and Roger Sjunnesson.  For long time fans,. that might be a deal breaker.  Bonus that Wednesday 13's is an acoustic one! 

"This new full length CD finds Wednesday 13 revisiting songs from his entire catalogue acoustically. Including NEW acoustic versions of: Haunt Me, God is A Lie, We All Die, Evil Is Good, Dead Carolina, Ghost Stories and more." -Wednesday 13 (press release)

(Sonic Syndicate - Sonic Syndicate)

Sonic Syndicate feels like a more driven band overall. Whether it was the subsequent downsizing of the band members in the band when they returned from hiatus or a new outlook on how to deliver the same idea with better results, tracks like “My Revenge” with its pummeling pace and the more traditional sounding ballads that pop up throughout like “Unbreakable” give the band a stronger stance. A guest spot from Soilwork’s Speed Strid certainly helps on “Before You Finally Break” with pushing their new sound forward. The performances are stronger (especially the riffs which are all around much more memorable) and the writing feels less formulaic. This is what Sonic Syndicate should have been sounding like almost a decade ago. -Metal Observer

(Wednesday 13 - Undead Unplugged)

(*While this is a live show review and there are no album reviews yet, it gives some insight into the "Undead Unplugged" album*)

A lot of work has gone in to translate even his heaviest, fist-in-the-air tracks to acoustic guitar, in some cases getting as loud a racket out of the guitar as possible, at least without smashing the instrument nor growling his throat red raw, but Wednesday sounds very relaxed and sentimental in telling tales of song origins. -Nick Pollard

(Amberian Dawn - Magic Forest)

That's not to say that the whole of the album is average, only that it has all the elements of the genre, wrapped in good arrangements, and played well. In other words, it's standard stuff. But, as with Son of Rainbow, AD is always better when the temper songs with groove and simple catchy accessibility, with Dance of Life and Cherish My Memory being best examples. They also do better when they put a bit more complexity into their arrangements, leaning more towards progressive metal. You might here some of this within Agonizing Night or I'm Still Here. AD stumbles slightly with Memorial, where they pair Capri with a male vocalist. Thankfully, it's not some death metal moron. Rather, it's some operatic singer who doesn't compliment Capri one bit and sounds totally out of his element. Otherwise, Magic Forest is a strong return to form for the band, and suggests, with their new singer, more and better things are ahead for the band. -Danger Dog

Being that the time has come from rural folks to unite and meet up for a week long party session like the Calgary Stampede, I thought to throw in a country album here.  While being new to Blackhawk (and yes, I know they have been on the scene for a loooong time now), I enjoyed the previews I heard online so this will make a good recommendation for any friends out west.  And who can forget about Uncle Ted Nugent?  The guy who brought you hits like "Cat Scratch Fever", "Stranglehold", and "Fred Bear" is always good for a round of brews and goes along quite well with bull riding. ;-)

(Blackhawk - Brothers of the Southland)

“Brothers of the Southland is the product of BlackHawk’s evolution.  “It represents the band through the years and their many hits, the adversity they faced and Henry and Dave’s decision to continue their musical journey together. BlackHawk’s sound remains a beautiful blend of melody and harmony with genuine and purposeful lyrics and Loud & Proud is excited to be their label partner. We know their legions of fans are going to love experiencing this new music.” -Tom Lipsky (Loud & Proud Owner & President)

(Ted Nugent - Shut Up & Jam)

Another piece of good news? Unlike nearly every other one of his peers, Nugent remembers how long a gosh-darn album is supposed to be. Even with the second version of ‘Never Stop Believing,’ the whole record races by in less than 50 minutes. In fact, fully half of the songs are wrapped up in under three minutes, just like the old Motown sides that clearly have such a strong influence on Nugent’s best music. Combine that brevity with the overall high songwriting and performance quality on ‘Shutup&Jam’ and guess what? Ted Nugent’s new album not only satisfies, it actually kinda leaves us wanting more! -Ultimate Classic Rock

There are also some awesome new albums to my ears on top of that.  Dirty Heads, Starset, and Origin are all new to moi as well.  Hopefully some good comes from these releases.  The previews have been good thus far so crossing fingers!

(Dirty Heads - Sound of Change)

This album feels like a statement release for Jared Watson. Jared delivers heavy rap verses while also singing, hitting high notes over most of the albums choruses, as well as providing timely background harmonies & melodic hooks. Great examples of his diverse vocal approach would be on songs “Sound of Change”, “Burn Slow”, “My Sweet Summer” & “Hear You Coming” with Jared sounding almost unrecognizable over the chorus on the latter.

...Sound of Change proves to us that influential change is important to the sound if we’re to evolve as artists. Dirty Heads took one big evolving step forward with Sound of Change as they showcased a level of depth most of us may not be prepared for, which is why this album will only age better with time. -The Pier

(Starset - Transmissions)

I imagine Transmissions as a concept album. An album full of love songs written about Bates’ fascination for astronomy and the Universe. Transmissions’ opening track, First Light, opens with one of the most important questions you will ever be asked; “Once you have the ability to affect monumental change would you let fear consume you? Or would you overcome?” The albums epic 13 tracks combines to create a magnum opus of sound. Artists sometimes work their entire lives to create an album that’s on the same scope that Transmissions is, but rarely come close to the level of musical perfection that Bates’ and Starset have achieved. The lyrics of each track are crafted with poetic precision. -Revenant Media

(Origin - Omnipresent)

Omnipresent seems to act as something meant to bridge the divide between the two worlds with a somewhat varied album built around a suiting crisp production quality that accentuates the technical capabilities of Origin while giving the music enough edge to remain corrosively brutal in a digital studio world. “All Things Dead” explodes out of the gate with pure intensity that is certified to give you whiplash within the first minute if that, all the while adding an intriguing amount of unsettling melody that will keep you on the edge of paranoia without really even knowing it. The mixture of gutturals and raspy screams nicely compliment that malicious attack, though it would have been nice to have a little more variety or, even in this band’s case, some additional layering of the two for added aggression. This becomes a desire throughout the entire album sadly, but not something that takes away too much punishment from the overall effort. -Apochs Metal Review


(Ministry - Last Tangle In Paris: Live 2012)

One thing notable of the Ministry live performance is the immersive fan experience. In addition to the band on stage and the audio assault, the stage show includes an impressive visual display with the light show and large video screen behind the band adding to the effects. The concert begins with a video of Al Jourgensen high above a dark stage talking about the likes of Morrison, Hendirx, Joplin, Cobain not having to deal with the, “douche bags because they are already dead… BUT I’M NOT DEAD YET!” Suddenly the stage lights up awash in red light and the band begins playing Ghouldiggers right on queue. -National Rock Review

Obviously somewhere in the week I will be taking some time out and giving the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young "1974" box set.  You can always use a good dose of classic rock n roll in your daily intake.  So you've made your way to the bottom of the article.  Yay!

Be sure to show the love to the artists mentioned here.  They worked hard to make these records so it should be equally met with some coin in their pockets.  Pick up a copy at your local record store or online retailer.  If digital is more your thing, then purchase it from an authorized legal source.  Cheers and have a great week exploring new music!

Box Sets:

(Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - CSNY 1974)

In order to prove that CSNY in 1974 wasn’t just a money-spinner, Nash has spent a long time in the producer’s chair, piecing together recordings fto create this lavish collection. It’s available as one single-disc live album, which pulls together 11 of the most famous CSNY tracks, but there’s much more interesting stuff in the full fat, director’s cut, extended edition box set. Forty tracks, plus a bonus DVD showing rare video footage dug up from the period, and a snazzy booklet, add up to a weighty piece of soft-rock archaeology.

Indeed, the finest thing that CSNY 1974 does is serve as a clear snapshot of this band at this extraordinary moment in their lives. It captures the musical excess of the era perfectly (at one point Crosby exclaims ‘don’t worry, we’ve got a couple of hours to go yet!’ and is greeted with wild cheers), and showcases how the four of them had grown in different directions since they’d first come together a few years earlier. Crosby is still the wild hippy, one minute breaking your heart with ‘Guinevere’, the next boring you senseless with ‘Almost Cut My Hair’. Stills is the musical bedrock who penned some of the group’s finest moments, but whose solo material seems the most dated to today’s ears. Alongside Nash’s simple but affecting material and Young’s more exploratory musings, it all comes together as ample evidence that CSNY were a real phenomenon. -Drowned In Sound

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