Friday, 3 August 2012

Testament- Dark Roots Of Earth

    It has been four long years since the release of "The Formation Of Damnation", a monumental comeback album which saw Testament's return after trials and tribulations that could have and would have broken most mere mortals; including the thankfully successful fight Chuck Billy had with cancer. Rightfully given rave reviews, "Formation..." was hailed, worthily, as a outright modern metal classic. Finally, the much anticipated follow up, "Dark Roots Of Earth" is here, but can it live up to the undoubted great weight of expectation?

    Much like before, Testament take from both the old and the new within their repertoire. A lot of the guitar work for example has the old-school thrash feel to it but through a modern lense, whilst the presence of Gene Hoglan on drums sees blastbeats popping up, and the modern and precise production certainly moves them from being a nostalgia act.

   Opening with "Rise Up" it's pretty clear that they aren't going to take any prisoners. Very much a 'call to arms' number with the instantly memorable and effective mantra "When I say rise up...You say war" which should see this become a live favourite without a doubt. For the most part, "Dark Roots.." maintains a very fast pace; leaving behind some of the more mid-paced tracks "Formation.." had. The guitar work from both Skolnick and Peterson is absolutely sublime on both the thrashier riffs and melodic parts; whilst Chuck Billy's gravelly aggressive vocals are as forceful and powerful as ever.

    The elephant in the room thus far however is the inclusion of the near 8 minute long ballad "Cold Embrace" which has torn people thus far. Sadly it isn't the band's best ballad thus far and it is a real momentum killer considering it follows from the opening salvo of such consistently strong and fast songs. Definitely the only low point on the album though.

    An album which had a towering task to live up to its predecessor; "Dark Roots..." has thankfully lived up to the task and, whilst maybe not topping "Formation...", it certainly proves a match. The ever reliable and spectacular Testament roll on.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Slash- Apocalyptic Love

    So the travelling circus that is Guns 'N' Roses continues to intrigue and embarrass in equal measure. The recent fiasco of the rumoured original line-up performing at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ending up being just a pipe dream, it looks increasingly unlikely that we will see a reunion of this classic line-up even if a bunch of pigs fly over the horizon whilst that horned fellow below has to get out his thermal undies. Simultaneously the Velvet Revolver vocalist spot is still open and has seen everyone from Corey Taylor, a possible returning Scott Weiland to David Cameron (possibly) being linked to it. If Slash can make albums this good though we could fair alright without.

    Slash's previous solo album was a pretty fun affair, and in the absence of VR, very welcoming to hear that guitar tone once again. It did have a feel of a bit of a vanity project about it at times though and was a bit hit and miss. Some excellent tunes and collaborations such as Ian Astbury on "Ghost", but some were pretty dull and some of the guest appearances simply looked like Slash showing off his celebrity mates. The new album, "Apocalyptic Love" instead sees a cohesive band, with Alter Bridge's talismanic Myles Kennedy on vocals. Having a fixed line-up means that this just works so much better than the previous album. It feels like a proper band and album rather than a project. The fact that this is a grouping that have played together extensively as well (on Slash's touring for the last album), you can tell that they are a gelled unit. 

    It cannot be stressed how much more this album feels like an actual band playing rather than like before, but it also even feels like a young and hungry band. With headphones on you can hear countdowns into many of the songs before they actually kick in, suggesting a rawness to proceedings. If it wasn't for how instantly recognisable both Myle's voice and Slash's guitar sound were you could think this was a bunch of young lads. Speaking of Myles, you can see why Slash was so keen on having him as his permanent singer, as his incredible range and ability only continue to cement his reputation as one of the very best rock vocalists around right now, arguably THE best. Such a strong singing voice and vocal range, but here he also shows a wide variety of delivery, from slower pace, long notes held, to even machine gun speed singing at times, whilst sounding incredibly cool and with swagger throughout. A possible show stealing performance.

   Of course it is Slash's guitar work and songwriting which is the real star of the show, with some of the strongest riffs he has written for some time, this album is full to the brim with real summertime anthems. It is all so fluid as well; whilst the first solo album had him trying to play differently to suit different singers, which would see him attempt eeriness with the Ozzy fronted number, here it is all fist pumping, good times bluesy rock which he is a master at. "Apocalyptic Love" is simply full of anthems just perfect for the sunshine and the hot weather. This is your summer soundtrack. Enjoy.


Recommended: Apocalyptic Love, Standing In The Sun, No More Heroes

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted- Hail Technology?

If you are a regular reader to this here blog, or shelter for incoherence and stupidity if you will, you may have cottoned on that I am a bit of a rock and metal fan mostly. So regular readers (all 1 or 2 of you) may be wondering why a picture of 2Pac is sitting on this post. Well for the record although I spend most of my time waffling on about bands with loud guitars etc, my music taste is a lot wider than I often make out. Hip Hop and R&B are such genres (I know there can be complicated overlaps with these two but I’m not going in to great detail for this post, so apologies) that I can be found listening to. Yes, after how I sounded there, this is hugely surprising but its true dammit! You really cannot fuck with a lot of 90’s Hip Hop and R&B, so many awesome songs. Besides what I’m about to talk about is huge news.

At Coachella Festival 2012, a massive performance from legends Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg saw the use of holograms to recreate the ‘live presence’ of gone but not forgotten greats 2Pac and Nate Dogg (the latter passing away last year). Both figures are of course huge parts of these genres of music, and so distinctive and renowned, as well as influential: Nate Dogg’s voice is such a presence on countless great (and not so great) songs from this period and beyond, whilst 2Pac is often cited as one of the greatest, poignant and heartfelt rappers of all time, sometimes considered to even be THE greatest. 2Pac especially is still such an iconic figure to fans to this very day and his legacy in Hip Hop almost unparalleled since his death many years ago. So the use of hologram performances of these two in an already massive show adds a great curiosity factor to it. How good an idea was it however?

My initial reaction when I heard this news was that this was quality news. So many people who live and breathe this form of music never had the chance to see 2Pac live, to never see such classics as “Me Against The World”, “Hail Mary” and “How Do You Want It”, whilst many people will of course be still mourning Nate Dogg’s departure (so this is not to be overlooked either). Watching the clips it has to be said that the holograms were incredibly lifelike and the technology was very strong and seemed to give what could be the closest many will ever get to seeing these guys live at all. As a one off event as well this could prove to be a truly iconic moment in music. I wasn’t there for the record, I have only seen the clips on YouTube so I can’t properly judge I guess (this maybe makes this whole post futile...but oh well we shall press on). My cynicism about the event begins to creep in here however. What if it isn’t a one off event?

That’s to say, what if the use of these holograms to bring back a performer ‘back from the dead’ and back to the live stage begins to get used more frequently? What if someone decided to use such holographic technology to bring back the likes of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Kurt Cobain or Keith Moon back at the drop of a hat for what would surely prove to be major selling shows? Could the use of this technology prove to tarnish the legacies of such iconic musicians? If a music exec, or whomever organised such things decided to try and get a quick buck or two out of a hologram of Michael Jackson for an arena tour? I feel this could just be an insult to the artist and maybe even the fans if it proved to be a regular occurrence.
Going back to the actual performance of ‘2Pac’ as well; his stage moves and crowd interactions are programmed prior (obviously (I’m assuming that’s how it works, I’m no expert on technology)). This surely detracts from the live show itself in a sense by completely eradicating the spontaneity of the live show. His moves are not interactions. For someone who considers the uniqueness of each show to be part of the experience, this is a major factor in my opinion.

That being said, like mentioned before, as a one off event I still think this show was a really cool event, and I think it would have been pretty immense to have been a part of it. Especially seeing as how 2Pac and Snoop performed “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” ‘together’. That is bloody awesome. I just hope the use of this is not something that would get out of hand, and in the end, just tarnish the memories of such greats. Then again it can’t be worse than the amount of shoddy ‘2Pac albums’ released by producers who had no working relation to the guy whatsoever, just so they can make a name for themselves and make a couple of quid.

That’s my views at least. Now let it sink in that you have just listened to the opinion of a skinny, white, unshaven metal-head on his views on a Hip-Hop festival set...Sounds a bit unlikely doesn’t it? 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Shinedown- Amaryllis

Shinedown- Amaryllis

    Around 2008/2009 a band from America started coming to UK shores, doing shows including an initial support slot for Disturbed before their own frequent tours, to some great reaction to fans. Turns out this band was already an arena selling act in America, and these tours were actually for their 3rd full length album ‘The Sound Of Madness’. You will have certainly heard one of their massive singles, which perhaps not as huge over here, often invade the charts in America. Yes of course I am talking about Shinedown.
For those who do not know, Shinedown fit into that category of modern arena rock bands, dominated by THAT band Nickelback

    Without going any further it has to be said that, yes, Shinedown are not a band that offer anything new whatsoever. Massive selling arena rock which you have heard before, with Metallica influenced fast paced numbers and clean and massive ballads in equal abundance. Yes you have heard it before. What separates certain bands like this from others however is a proper personality, and of course great songs, which Shinedown have in absolute abundance. Their songs are absolutely huge, instantly memorable, and will tap into your mind and stay there for a long, long time. What they have as well, which can be lacking in some of these kind of bands, is that they are genuine. You can really feel that singer Brent Smith bleeds and means every single word he says; whether he is telling you to stand up to bullies, looking out for your fellow human, or singing from a real place of despair.

‘Amaryllis’ is the bands 4th album, and the follow up to the gargantuan selling ‘Sound Of Madness’, and it is much the same, that is, songs that are absolutely huge and infectious. In my opinion, ‘Amaryllis’ is an improvement on its predecessor. The harder, faster songs have perhaps less of an edge to them; the likes of ‘Adrenaline’, ‘Enemies’ and ‘Bully’ aren’t quite as hard and without as much aggression as the likes of ‘Devour’ and ‘Sin With A Grin’ from ‘SOM’, but they are much more memorable and the choruses will be in your head from the start.

It’s the ballads where this album shows a vast improvement. Previously some of them wouldn’t quite hit the mark; ‘Crow And The Butterfly’ for example is quite hit and miss. Here the ballads are beautiful, fully heartfelt and quite simply just better. The title track, ‘I’m Not Alright’, ‘Unity’, these are songs that just cannot fail to make you feel better no matter what; whilst ‘I’ll Follow You’ has similarities to Elton John. Sometimes the mid paced songs aren’t as memorable and fall in to the background in comparison to some of the larger songs here, but in this case this a minor complaint.

This is a band whose music has touched me and helped me before (bit personal and soppy I realise), and in a time of stress once again with assignments, the new album is a truly uplifting and touching effort which puts a smile on my face every single time. Not cutting edge in the slightest, but completely truthful, catchy, and moving. 


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Where Has Tippell Been?

Hello Internet peoples! I appear to be back after quite a while, and I apologise for that.

As of late once again, uni assignments have kind of got in the way of posting on here, but in addition I have been writing still, but for a Alternative Matter webzine, and now ThisIsNotAScene due to the two merging.

Just thought I would say that for the legions of readers (ok, maybe just me) I am still going to be posting on here on occasion, if not as regularly as before. I won't be so regular sadly (when were you you tit?), but this blog will still be active, and will still have reviews and the odd piece on whatever is occurring in our world of heavy and challenging music.

Tippell never left bitches :D

You can now also check my writings on here for future reference :D

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Live Review- Shinedown- London Roundhouse

Shinedown- London Roudhouse- 8/02/12

[This my first attempt at a live review, so any critiques are very welcome here. Also I realise I lack any pictures which prove I was there but my camera has decided to do walkies somewhere. I was there though, really.]

    After what seems like hours queuing outside in the freezing cold, eventually the doors open to allow us to queue for a further age or two. It’s the return or American rockers Shinedown we are waiting for; the first date on their UK tour and later on, according to the front-man Brent Smith on stage, the first place they chose to play since recording the brand new album Amarylis. Arena headliners in their home country, Shinedown’s popularity over here is not quite as big, as the size of the Roundhouse proves, but they are on a steady rise in the UK and the reaction from some is very euphoric. At this stage above the guys are undertaking meet and greets in view of those of us who chose not to invest; and once these finish they move past the shrieking, hysteric masses they met just enter the venue at our level to no reaction whatsoever, but this may be as I’m the only one who appeared to see them, therefore I am claiming that wave from Brent was for me and me alone!

     Eventually we are allowed to the stage area, and kudos to the stage staff that it is not long at all until opening act, Brummie rockers Liberty Lies [3/5] kick off proceedings, nor is there a huge wait between any of the acts. Undoubtedly youthful but unashamedly confident, these lads put on an infectiously fun show and manage to get much of the ever growing crowd jumping; sadly their songs are not the most memorable and are quickly forgotten by the time Halestorm [4/5] arrive. Halestorm play like their livelihoods depend on it and have pretty much the whole crowd gripped from start to finish. This is such a confident showing that you seriously have to remind yourself that these guys are not headlining the show. Front woman Lizzy Hale puts on an especially great performance and comes across much grittier in the live scene than on record. Drummer Arejay seems to be trying to steal the show from his sister with a very charismatic performance behind the kit, on the kit, through the kit, wherever the hell he wanted to be really. A drum solo (no surprises there) that includes the entire band still was a unique touch as well, before the band finishes and leaves the entire place with grins on their mugs.

     Grins only widened further when Shinedown [4/5] make it to the stage. Kicking off with the title track from previous album The Sound Of Madness the entire place is moving as we are pummelled with hit after hit. Other than the inclusion of three brand new tracks (one of which is first single ‘Bully’, which does sound a lot better live admittedly) this is quite a safe set with very few surprises, other than the really unexpected but very welcome cover of ‘Simple Man’ (a song the band had previously said would not be played again because of its association with an ex member) played simply by Brent and guitarist Zach Myers with an acoustic guitar, which proves a very moving rendition. Since the last time I saw this band live way back at Download Festival in 2009 it seems Zach has come on leaps and bounds as a player and as a showman, his playing tonight clean and tight, and several times throughout the night he goes centre stage and seems to try to wrestle the show from Brent.

    However, like at any Shinedown show it is Brent who will be most remembered, and he too appears to have improved hugely on stage. Before, between songs, he could verge too far towards preaching to the crowd, tonight however he is completely heartfelt and believable, and in the songs you know he means and bleeds EVERY word he sings, ‘Second Chance’ being a great example. When he asks the crowd to fulfil the band’s dream of having the crowd singing back so loud they can’t hear themselves play, you can feel the crowd’s hearts being tugged at before they dutifully oblige. Since the last time I saw these guys, Brent has developed in to one of the most genuinely thankful and heartfelt front-men around. The new album should see this band get even bigger over here, perhaps eventually pushing to arena status, and with a visibly vast improvement as a live band, fully deservedly so.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Never Felt Cheated

Lamb Of God- Resolution   

    Of this generation’s crop of Metal acts, Lamb Of God are certainly one of the world’s biggest, and most popular. Massive selling (well, as metal albums go) albums such as Ashes Of The Wake, Sacrament and Wrath have seen the Virginians rise to the top of the metal hierarchy. On the form of their previous albums, it was very unlikely that this would be a disappointment.
    If you are a fan of the band thus far then Resolution is not going to throw you off on a loop at all, you know full well what to expect as the band have followed a path of greatness yet with consistency and Resolution for the most part does follow this trend, with the rawer sound of previous album Wrath used rather than the more polished production of Sacrament. It does show Lamb Of God flexing their creative muscles to some extent however, with a couple of new tricks up their sleeves. Very misleadingly for example, album opener ‘Straight For The Sun’ has a very sludgey feel reminiscent of Crowbar. Otherwise the album is very familiar groove orientated metal which most would be familiar too, but with some extra elements involved: first released song ‘Ghost Walking’ starts off with a clean acoustic guitar line before the song truly reveals itself, whilst album closer ‘King Me’, as you may have already heard, uses orchestral parts to decent yet not overpowering effect.

    These particular examples however are not the album’s highlights, and mostly it is when the band is doing “meat and potatoes” style Lamb Of God songs without any new surprises that the album actually works best.  ‘The Undertow’ for example is a ferociously strong song with no new variations upon it whatsoever; it’s just the band sounding their strongest. ‘Invictus’ similarly hits hard after following the clean, almost melancholic instrumental ‘Barbaraosa’, whilst ‘Cheated’ is an almost punk-like ditty which tributes the Sex Pistols and sounds very similar to Wrath’s ‘Contractor’. It is in these moments where we see that the band members themselves are at the best forms of their lives.

    Much has been made of the improvement of Randy Blythe’s vocal performance here and with good reason. Whilst before he has been powerful but limited in range, Resolution sees him as a much bigger part of the mix, with a wider range of harsh screams and some clean singing in ‘Insurrection’ which comes off rather well. It isn’t just the Randy show however, as behind the drum-kit Chris Adler is phenomenal, they may have replaced him with Squiddly Diddly (...cartoon octopus? Anyone?...).

    There has been a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Resolution as a contender for album of the year already, but sadly it does not quite live up to this. Still a great effort from one of the most consistently hard-hitting bands on the planet, and on repeated listens the album does improve. Doesn’t quite beat Sacrament or Wrath in places however, but this is still a terrific work and very much worth getting. Whether it will be one of the year’s best is yet to be seen.


Listen To: The Undertow, Invictus, Cheated

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Enter Shikari- A Flash Flood Of Colour  

    Without a shadow of a doubt this is going to be one of the year’s biggest rock releases; Enter Shikari being a band that have achieved major crossover success and will be embraced as much by rockers as they will be by trendy types and chart lovers. Combining UK style hardcore and some metal elements with Dance rhythms and Drum And Bass crunch, becoming one of the Countries most popular bands, and all the best to them for it. I myself had never checked the band out before, but as I have gradually got in to Dubstep and to an extent Drum And Bass, a band that mixes it together with Hardcore and Metal should be right up my street right?

    Sadly it seems that A Flash Flood Of Colour is not the best place to start, or their best effort or...actually simply this is not a great album whatsoever. Too many things crop on occasion here that simply irritate me and do not feel necessary, or feel misleading. A brief listen to some earlier music from the band (especially from the debut) suggests that the band do genuinely mix hardcore and electronica to decent effect; here on the other hand they have not implemented them at all, instead it will be dance style beat, followed by slightly metal riff, hardcore breakdown, back to a dance like element. This is not implementing both styles together, this is merely playing both in the same song; it would be like a smoothie company saying that their product contains both strawberries and bananas, only to get it and find they aren’t blended together but separate in a bag. The song ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ is a good example of this and how disjointed and confused it sounds rather than truly bringing the different styles together to full effect.

    Despite this there are parts of songs that sound really good at times, some of the dance and drum and base parts are pretty catchy and work really well when they are not interrupted by a ill placed breakdown; for example ‘Stalemate’ has no real hint of hardcore whatsoever and is a considerably stronger song as a result. For me a bigger problem however is the vocals. Rou Reynolds is not the strongest clean singer by any stretch of the imagination and never seems to have been, but definitely fits in with the UK hardcore style, what is striking however is how weak his harsh vocals have become, sounding mostly very strained and at times even unintentionally comedic; they genuinely sound damaged rather than ferocious as perhaps expected. On the final track ‘Constellations’ he even sounds like Mike Skinner, if Skinner was struggling with his ‘vocals’ as well that is.

    Speaking of comedic, for me the biggest downer of the album and a genuine irritation is the frequent inclusion of what must be ‘in-jokes’ to the band. During ‘Sssnakepit’ for example they are heard talking about Louis Armstrong, before finishing the song with what is simply a stupid finish of silly voices followed by can have fun in the studio by any means I’m not that tight, but the inclusion of this is simply pointless and not inclusive. Similarly during ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’ the song is interrupted by them telling each other to calm down and remember Gandhi...Why? Completely unnecessary.

    It isn’t entirely bad however, there are some pretty decent moments here and there; ‘Search Party’ for example could be a great club floor-filler, and the drum and base parts in ‘Pack Of Thieves’ are particularly strong. But it is never great for long before something seems ill placed, needless or even just annoying. The political side of the band as well comes across as far too preachy at times. Rise Against is a perfect example of how a song can contain a political urgency and meaning, yet is not overpowered by it constantly if need be; here whenever politics comes up it is essentially shouting in your face to listen, like someone rudely yelling at you until you listen.

    Despite this fans will undoubtedly snap this up and enjoy it, and they will become even bigger news this year. For essentially a newbie to this band however, A Flash Flood Of Colour is too often stumbling and for much of it simply annoying.


Listen To: Stalemate, Pack Of Thieves.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Biggest Releases For 2012: A Fool's Picks And Predictions

    Happy new year everyone. It's officially that time of the year where we make (and possibly break already) resolutions, we look back over the previous year and then look forward to what the new year has to offer (or sit there tearing your hair out at the thought of dissertation writing for the next few months if you are like me). Part of this of course is looking forward to what great, or poor music we have to look forward to in the new year. That's where this entralling (HA!) post comes in.

    2011 was a great year for heavy music (check out my countdown of the year by the way!), but a quick look at just some of the expected releases from bands this year shows that this year may just top it, and that's not to mention what new bands will take the world by storm this year. So here is my top albums to look for this year, mostly from established bands, and the odd new curiosity ahead. Away we go...

Lamb Of God

    There has been considerable hype already around the new Lamb Of God album; which is due for release on 23 January, and with good reason; Lamb Of God. Fucking. rule. One of the truly great bands of this generation, the follow up to the blistering Wrath is expected to be a highlight for the year. The press have had the album and it has been seemingly unanimous praise for the band and a possible career best, and a contender for album of 2012 in the first month.

How They Sounded Last Time:

Alice In Chains
    Perhaps against the odds and certainly against the expectations of many, Alice In Chains returned in 2009 after their hiatus and the death of iconic front-man Layne Staley with a new singer, William DuVall; and my album of that year, Black Gives Way To Blue. A mesmerizingly powerful effort of some of the bands most memorable and crushing riffs as well as the most heartbreaking ballads of their career. Reports suggest that a new album is on the way in 2012 but otherwise there is little information. 

How They Sounded Last Time:

    With main-man Nergal winning his battle against Leukaemia last year, the metal world must have let out a collective roar of ecstasy when news emerged of Behemoth activity, with a headline spot at Bloodstock and a new album on the way. 2010’s Evangelion brought Behemoth to the masses and anticipation for a new album has surely never been greater. The latest effort for these blackened death-metallers will undoubtedly be one of the year’s most important releases, purely because it sees one of modern metal’s most popular, controversial and powerful personalities, Nergal.

How They Sounded Last Time:

Cannibal Corpse
    The world’s biggest death metal bands are also expected to return with their 12th studio album in 2012. With death metal (and Cannibal Corpse themselves for that matter) perhaps more popular than ever, and with the recent output of CC with 2006’s Kill and 2009’s Evisceration Plague being some of the bands best in years, excitement for this is very high indeed.  This (and their headline tour in March) will have you windmilling until your neck snaps.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    One of the modern era’s most truly cutting edge and brilliant of bands, Frances’ Gojira are expected to have their latest full album out this year. Following 2008’s spectacular The Way Of All Flesh and support slots with some band called Metallica in the following year, Gojira are on a tremendous rise and should soon be rightly cited as one of the modern era’s truly great and important bands.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    Speaking of Metallica, a new album from the biggest metal band on the planet is expected. Arguably  the band have not had a decent release for a long, long time; 2008’s Death Magnetic was ok but otherwise you will need to go back as far as 1991’s The Black Album for the last great release; and after the catastrophic response to the Lou Reed collaboration Lulu, a new album will be held under great scrutiny. But they simply have to release a great album once again soon, and with The Black Album anniversary shows under the way, including a massive headline slot at this year’s Download festival; Metallica may just pull it off. It’s fucking Metallica after all.

How They Sounded Last Time: (Ignoring Lulu as technically it is a Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration, on top of that it is poor)

    Not the biggest bands in all fairness, and one perhaps easily missed by others, but the new Dyscarnate album is supposed to be a monstrous effort. The follow up to 2010’s perhaps little known but nonetheless excellent Enduring The Massacre; 2012 should be a big year for the young death metallers wit the release of the difficult second album. However going by the press on the album thus far, as well as the released new song ‘A Drone In The Hive’ (, this should be a terrific and brutal slice for the new year.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    NEW KISS ALBUM!! YES! YES YES YES!!...Erm sorry about that, but that’s how much I bloody love KISS and how much news of a brand new album excites me. 2009’s Sonic Boom was a true return to form after a long period of precious few albums (which were not that great to be honest) and it blew expectations out of the water. New album, Monster is in the works and should be out this year at some point and will hopefully see the bands presence in the UK again. You’ll know if it does, you’ll hear me cheering miles and miles away.

How They Sounded Last Time:

Primal Rock Rebellion
    A definite curiosity package this one, and a very unexpected collaboration. Featuring Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden and Mikee Goodman of SikTh, this seems an unlikely pairing, but the announcement on the Second of January with a song free to download certainly pricked the ears. The album should see release on 27th February on Spinefarm Records, and should be a very interesting release.

How They Sounded Last Time: (Well now)

Killswitch Engage
    Just to start off, I am a big Killswitch fan boy. The band that got put me on the downhill road towards being a metal fan, they were the first metal band that I truly loved and became a fan of, so a new album from these guys would be great news for me anyway. Following last year’s heart string tugging release from KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz’ alternate project Times Of Grace, 2012 should see the band refreshed and in fine form, and I for one cannot wait.

    [At time of writing it has emerged that front man Howard Jones has departed the band for unknown reasons. Gutted, but Killswitch Engage should still make a triumphant return, hopefully this year.]

How They Sounded Last Time: 

    Tech death metal overlords announced this very day (4th January if I don’t post this immediately) that a new album will see the light of day on 27th March, assumedly to a hearty chorus of burly cheering and roaring from across the globe. Recent years have seen a huge amount of ‘Shuggah influenced bands in the new Djent scene; this year Meshuggah should show the kids how it’s done.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    Tool releases seemingly come around as quickly as Hayley’s Comet, hell, evolutionary cycles in nature work quicker than Tool do in the studio. Thankfully Tool have yet to release an album any less than brilliant in their history and have a reputation as one of the world’s most popular metal bands and one of the most astounding visually, so at least the waits are worth it. Six long years since the release of their last album Vicarious, 2012 HAS to be the year Tool return, and it again should be nothing less than brilliant.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    One of the most vicious, dangerous sounding and universally praised bands currently, Converge are expected to release the follow up to the brutal Axe To Fall album this year. There is no doubt that this will be a great album, they have failed to make anything less thus far after all. Axe To Fall is a tough act to follow, but if anyone can do it, it’s Converge.

How They Sounded Last Time:

Black Sabbath
    The original lineup of the band that created metal and perfected metal in the first place? The first of this line up since 1979? Who ISN’T excited by this? It should be great as well; Iommi and Butler proved they are on fine form with 2009’s Heaven And Hell album The Devil You Know (R.I.P Dio) whilst Ozzy Osbourne seemed rejuvenated with his underrated 2010 release Scream.  This will be a massive release and, Rick Rubin aside, a great one. See you at Download.

How They Sounded Last Time:

    Not many bands can pull out their best album more than twenty years after their debut, but Testament seemed to pull it off with ease. 2008’s The Formation Of Damnation was a truly epic piece of work, a genuine classic encompassing the bands heritage and ability to push forward in to the future, being both of this day and yet classic and vintage; and the band are more than capable of matching it and even topping it. Do not miss this album, without a doubt this can be considered to become one of the year’s best albums without a note of music even being heard.

How They Sounded Last Time:

These are my top picks for the new year, with these releases expected, it should be a cracking year. Of course there are plenty of others as well as these so let me know if you think I have missed a genuine contender. Night all....Fuck forgot about Van Halen....