Monday, 27 June 2011

Back to the Mattew's Bridge

   There are very few bands out there who generate such levels of love or hatred than Limp Bizkit, and news of a brand new album either made you fill with rage or bounce around the room like a kid who has had too much cola. I myself fell into the latter category.

    For all the haters out there who will undoubtedly plague the internet with views dripping with venom (unintentional cobra pun there I promise) towards the backwards red-capped fronted band, firstly take a deep breath...and now listen. If you are going to take Limp Bizkit with any sense of seriousness you are a moron, this is dumb and silly and that is how it is meant to be, if you want cutting edge then there are two new Devin Townsend Project albums waiting for you.

    Obviously there are some questions that come to mind when it comes to 'Gold Cobra'. 6 years after 'The Unquestionable Truth' how will new Limp Bizkit sound? Will it be as fun as before? Will there be any pure floor fillers which we know they are capable of? Will Fred Durst get all serious on us? Please no! For all you Bizkit lovers out there you have little to worry about.

    Firstly this is still the Limp Bizkit that us 90's kids loved during our teenage years. Wes's riffs are as bouncy as ever without truly worrying the 'Back In Black's' of the riff world. What is rarely mentioned as well is how bassist Sam Rivers and drummer John Otto are formidable as a rhythm section, and DJ Lethal is still as pointless as ever but we still love him. 'Why Try' still sounds as awesome as it did when first revealed last year and should take rock club floors like a storm, the title track is another stellar tune that will make you jump like an escaped loon as well, although the chorus is rather disappointing when you'd normally expect it to erupt, and 'Autotunage', despite following a very pointless skit about the use of autotune, will have fans grinning from ear to ear.

    There are some issues to address here however. Fred Durst once again fulfils his role as a truly awful lyricist and being the ever reliable guy he is he comes up with some very cringe-worthy lines once again: "Holdin' the gold, it's so golden y'all, the golden cobra", "Why you get robbed like a zombie", and my personal favourite "Flush you turds down the drain, down the hatch throwin' craps". So once again on unintentionally hilarious form here for Fred, and analysing his lyrics is mostly a pointless exercise but even the most loyal 'Bizkit' fan will have some issues here. Bearing in mind that Mr Durst is now into his 40's do we really want him to sing about how he is a "Loser" in the cryptically titled 'Loser'? And the chorus (hell the entirety) of 'Douche Bag' is embarrassing even for Fred. 'Killer In You' see's him going into serial killer territory with genius storytelling skills about a murderer that will have Alice Cooper quivering with jealousy (this is of course a joke),  and in 'Shark Attack' his use of sharks is most probably a metaphor, but this being Fred Durst it could almost as easily simply be a song about being attacked by sharks.

    But in all fairness we don't want Fred Durst to become the Shakespeare of Rap and Metal. If you want poetic rapping with great meaning behind it then listen to Nas. If you want silly, immature raps about shooting people with a shotgun for seemingly no reason whatsoever then pick up 'Gold Cobra'. One last point though...whoever drew that album artwork and let it be used needs shooting with said shotgun. The cobra isn't even golden!


Listen to: Bring It Back, 90.2.10, Why Try




Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunshine, Beer and Rock 'n' Roll!

    Despite the odd heavy shower and overcast skies outside the window, it is in actual fact summertime, and as everyone knows summertime is just right for good old fashioned rock 'n' roll! Sitting in the sunshine with a BBQ and cool booze, or on a summer road-trip, perhaps to the next big summer festival, you need some summer tinged rock, and Black Stone Cherry's new opus will fit the bill perfectly.

    What sets 'Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea' aside from their previous works is the change of location for recording, choosing to record in Los Angeles with famed producer Howard Benson, rather than in their home town of Edmonton, Kentucky. Heavy touring widely across the globe has also allowed BSC to record a more universal album with open lyrical content and stories and themes easier to relate to outside of the South rather than much of their self titled's tracks which focus on local legends and stories. 'BTDATDBS' instead is more about their lives on the road and their experiences touring. This is most obvious on the nostalgia tinged 'Like I Roll', a heart felt ballad about life on the road and missing home.

    With the presence of Howard Benson on production duties, with his mainstream pedigree, it could be expected that his influence would have made 'BSC' take another step toward an instant radio play feel, but surprisingly, at times this is grittier than 2008's 'Folklore And Superstition'. Album opener and lead single 'White Trash Millionaire' is the heaviest song they have recorded since their d├ębut, but is also (coupled with following track 'Killing Floor') the heaviest track on display here. Howard has allowed front man Chris Robertson to give his strongest vocal display to date, fully showcasing a gravelly style to the likes of 'White Trash...' and pure sincerity to the likes of 'In My Blood'.

    Interestingly some other reviews have stated that this is a noticeably darker album than previous output, but for me this isn't quite the case either. Track number four, 'Such A Shame' tells a story about the death of a stripper who has faced a tough live, but this is the darkest song on here by a long way. There are a couple of truly clumsy attempts at making dirty rock perfect for strip clubs in 'Let Me See You Shake' and the cringe worthy 'Blame It On The Boom Boom', whoever allowed that title and chorus to make the final cut deserves to be taken outside for a stern word!

    Here I have to make a confession...I am a lover of ballads, and for other ballad lovers there are a number of nostalgic, heartfelt and thought provoking numbers on display here. 'In My Blood' as mentioned before covers life on the road, 'Stay' is a beautiful number about wanting a loved one back that most of us can relate to, and album highlight 'Won't Let Go' seems to cover sticking together with a lover or even soul mate no matter what happens. 'All I'm Dreamin' does have an overly syrupy chorus that is even a bit much for me mind you.

    Overall this is a highly enjoyable album and perfect for summer escapades in the gleaming sunshine. It doesn't break any new ground at all, it is just reliable Southern Rock made for this time of the year. Not a perfect by any means with some awful moments, otherwise this is a very decent album and should be blared out of plenty of stereos along with the sound of beers being opened and  meat sizzling away on the BBQ.


Listen To: White Trash Millionaire, In My Blood, Won't Let Go                                

Monday, 6 June 2011

Embrace The Khaos

   Precious few bands can consistently create genuine heavy metal anthems as much as Arch Enemy. Since the arrival of talismanic vocalist Angela Gossow on 2001's Wages Of Sin, Arch Enemy have been a very consistent band, with an instantly distinguishable branch of purely anthemic melodic death metal. Albums such as Anthems Of Rebellion and of course Doomsday Machine have seen this band become one of contemporary metal's strongest and most reliable but breathtaking bands. New album, Khaos Legions not only follows this pattern but is certainly one of their strongest albums, almost matching the strength of Doomsday Machine.
    Michael Amott's involvement over the last couple of years with the legendary Carcass is one reason for the long gap between this and 2007's Rise Of The Tyrant, and the influence of the considerably heavier Carcass has undoubtedly had an affect on the writing of Khaos Legions. This is considerably heavier than previous albums and less melodic, but this isn't a drastic shift in style, this is still undeniably Arch Enemy from first listen. The heavier style is noticeable but not majorly different for them.

     Instrumental opener Khaos Overture is immediate evidence that the Amott brothers are still shredding as fast as ever, before creeping into a menacing spoken word speech alerting to the rise of "...a god less entity, they are the Khaos Legions". A major statement of intent to the rage and ferocity that is in store, and before you have time to think, you are immediately thrust into the already anthemic lead single Yesterday Is Dead And Gone. This from the off is where we can see the heavier, thrashier riffing at work yet is still without a doubt Arch Enemy, guaranteed to bludgeon on the live scene.

    Angela Gossow gives one of her strongest vocal performances here as well. Never one to fail to give stunning, powerful rage fuelled performances, yet again Angela gives an intimidating and rousing display. This is music built to empower you, and Angela certainly portrays this throughout on the excellent Bloodstained Cross, the battle cry of Under Black Flags We March and the heavy as a sack of anvils Through The Eyes Of A Raven.

    This is a very strong album by one of the best and most important contemporary metal bands. This is an album which will stand strong as a contender for the years best, and should stand up as one of the bands all time great works for years to come.


Listen to: Yesterday Is Dead And Gone, Bloodstained Cross, Through The Eyes Of A Raven

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Stand Up And Fight. No Smiling!

    First of all I would like to say that I thought 2007's The Varangian Way was a hugely enjoyable effort. Over the top as you could have hoped from Turisas. It had pure fist pumping anthems such as Holmguard and Beyond, Cursed Be Iron and Fields Of Gold as well as moments of pure silliness such as In The Court Of Jarisleif and of course that cover Rasputin. So news of a new album out this year exciting me was a bit of an understatement, unfortunately Stand Up And Fight is very dissappointing.

    From Turisas we want silliness, this a band that is far from serious  and I'd imagine would happily admit to it. We also want shout along, uplifting anthems, which TVA had in abundance throughout. On the silliness front SUAF is pretty lacking. This seems to be a more mature album (well as mature as people who dress up as and sing about Vikings can be), which is a shame in some ways as it could have benefited from some oddity such as VA's In The Court...

    So somewhat lacking on the insanity department, does this album provide the fist-pumping powerful anthems that this band is more than capable of? It does, but unfortunately not enough. The title track is one of the strongest anthems that Turisas has ever written, the first verse is quite a calm affair before letting rip into a mighty roar along chorus which this band excels at. Album opener The March Of The Varangian Guard is also a very strong song which is trailed by the equally stellar Take The Day! which is the strongest use of Orchestral parts on the entire album.

    Coming to the use of Orchestral parts, Turisas is a band that has always tried to achieve a grandiose and epic sound using Orchestral elements, creating an atmosphere fit for the battlefield of which they often sing about. Here however this does not come of as strongly as on VA and to a lesser extent 2004's Battle Metal. Other than the songs I have mentioned there is very little here that sets the fire alight. Much of this comes across as more Disney than going into bloody, glorious battle.

    On the whole Stand Up And Fight is disappointing, lacking in the silliness of previous efforts and with precious few immediately powerful anthems to get you ready for the battlefield. We know that Turisas could have made a much better album than this, and hopefully next time they will. In order to make up for the lack of silliness on display here, here is a picture I found on Google.


Listen to: The March Of The Varangian Guard, Take The Day!, Stand Up And Fight