Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

The Bunny the Bear: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say – Music Review

ARTIST: The Bunny the Bear
ALBUM TITLE:
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say
RECORD LABEL:
Victory Records
RELEASED:
June 28, 2011

By Eric Stuckart
Creator, Destroyer

Well, this happened.

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, The Bunny the Bear is a band that — from my experience, at least — had gotten a bit of attention from the metal and hardcore scene for the band’s two vocalists wearing the titular masks of their band name. However, there’s a catch — of course! — in the sense that they not only wear the masks, but said masks are worn in an ironic sense. Chris Hutka, who wears the bear mask, sings with an angelic, clean voice that at times sits on the border of belying his masculinity, and Matthew Tybor (the bunny mask wearing fellow) grunts and growls like many of the ‘core-labeled shouters nowadays. How hipster of them.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, this isn’t like the late ’90s, when bands with masks and makeup were pandering to the angsty, Jnco Jeans wearing teens raging against their parents. No sir, this is a completely different beast. The Bunny the Bear pepper their post-hardcore with dancy, synth-heavy club beats that permeate most of their songs in a way that works really well, but only half of the time. Throughout the rest of the album, at least to these ears, it’s just too jarring and feels forced and slightly obnoxious. I think it’s partly due to Tybor’s vocals, which when combined with the dancy bits, works completely against the music, making it sound less like juxtaposition to the atmosphere and more like bland and faceless cookie monster vocals laid over random dance beats. A lot of that might have to do with the fact that the album’s production is so slick and poppy that it only emphasizes how out of place the vocals are in the first place.

Hutka has a fantastic singing voice, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone and if you hate even the slightest “emo” flavor in your singers to stay far, far away. However, if you don’t mind bands like A Skylit Drive, or Coheed and Cambria even, his voice really shouldn’t rub you the wrong way. Throughout If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, my ears perked up whenever he started singing, which should count for something.

I’m a huge fan of genre mashing and experimenting, but parts of this album are just an abrasive, disjointed mess. Fortunately, as the album progressed, the emphasis on the more aggressive parts is scaled back considerably, much to the music’s benefit. It does return on full blast for the album’s closer, “Path,” but it didn’t nearly sound as out of place as it did on the album’s opening one-two punch of “Prelude to Pregnancy” and lead single “Aisle.” Even still, I get the impression listening to this that it was created almost solely for the purpose of starting silly debates on the internet about its validity in the scene. It also feels like the culmination of the evolutionary path that bands like Refused, and later The Rise, had helped to spawn. Admitting something like that almost makes me sick, might I add, but I’m not one to shy away from calling a spade a spade.

Perhaps I’m just getting old and my tastes are finally starting to solidify, but had I not known, I’d almost imagine that this is supposed to be a practical joke trying to make fun of the steadily growing popularity of bands like I See Stars, Abandon All Ships or the unforgivable obnoxiousness of Brokencyde, and such groups’ love of throwing completely batshit dance music blips and bleeps into their music just for the fuck of it. For what it’s worth, I know that saying this completely nullifies the shtick that the band has going for it, but they should just ditch the growling and the silly masks and focus more on writing atmospheric, synthy pop songs, because that’s where The Bunny the Bear shine the brightest. The rest of it is just filler and only clouds what is otherwise an interesting take on post-hardcore music.

RATING: 6/10

 

Photos courtesy of Victory Records.

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Mega Man 9: Back in Blue – Music Review

ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM TITLE:
Mega Man 9: Back in Blue
RECORD LABEL: Independent (OverClocked ReMix)
RELEASED: September 7, 2011

By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassador to the Mushroom Kingdom

Back in 2008, Capcom released the much anticipated Mega Man 9, a downloadable title for all major consoles returning to its glorious 8-bit roots. Like many Mega Man fans, I anticipated the game, but what probably excited me more was another soundtrack of old school Mega Man music. The music of Mega Man was one of the few series I took seriously in terms of music. Yes, I have always loved game music, but this is one of those series that caused me to place a tape recorder next to my TV speakers to listen to it on my own when I was a kid. Ah, the good old days where you couldn’t Google a game soundtrack.

Moving on, game music community OC Remix has released its 27th album, Mega Man 9: Back in Blue which, I’m sure you figured, is an album full of Mega Man 9 remixes. Oh, and this one is two discs if you’re the type to put these sort of packages on CD.

For a change, this album tries to stay away from staying in the electronic mold. There are plenty of tracks that have as much circuitry as Mega Man himself, and there are the standard power rock-like shred fests, but there is a good chunk of variety found here.

Nearly from the start, a unique track titled “Smooth as Honey” presents itself. What really makes this stand out for me is that this mix carries a funk vibe that decorates itself with a sort of lounge feel. Also, this is the only track on the album to feature vocals. Here’s the thing: I usually can’t stand vocals in a video game music remix/cover. I know it’s irrational, but I’d rather just hear an instrumental mix of game music I like. However, this is one of the few vocal mixes that I really got into. It also has a very uplifting quality that made me smile, and again, I’m one to go in the other direction by generally liking more serious or “depressing” music.

The next track that stood out to me was “SIZZLING CIRCUITS” a Wily Stage 3 remix. It opens up with a western gunslinger theme eventually backed by violins. Although it switches gears to a straight up electronic mix, I feel this track did a fantastic job really exploring the source material by fusing many different kinds of genres from that style. Yes, I know I implied earlier that this album had less electronic based music, and that I loved that change, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get into it when a mix sounds as good as this one.

“Morricone Man” is yet another track that stood out only because some of the background layers made me think that if the “Endless Stage” music was in EarthBound for some bizarre reason, this is how it would sound like. It would make a good battle theme! Also, towards the last half of the track, more western elements make a quick appearance. Overall, this mix might seem a bit odd, but I can easily get down with something more unconventional.

The following mix, “Cool Burning” takes an ironic approach to the Magma Man stage music. Obviously, the stage itself is full of many enemies, traps and … you know what? If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve played a Mega Man game. The stage looks like it’s robot hell! With this mix, it sounds like an ice based Robot Master froze Magma Man’s level! A very relaxed piano directs the flow backed by a gentle beat. Although this isn’t the first OC Remix to do something like this by a long shot, I still found myself pleasantly surprised, and feeling a lot cooler.

“Splash Waltz” immediately follows with a — wait for it — mix with a waltz vibe! Ah, but this one doesn’t have an orchestra backing it. In fact, the song is very minimalist with only an acoustic guitar and flute setting the tempo. Splash Woman’s stage, which this track was based off of, was one of my favorite tracks in Mega Man 9, so it was nice to hear such a mix that did the original track justice. Though the tempo gets away from waltz style toward the end, I still enjoyed the continuation of the very relaxed feel of “Cool Burning.”

There is also a bit of interesting fusion on this album. The aptly titled “Astro Fusion”, a mix of Galaxy Man’s stage, combines piano with basic electronic music. Although it’s not nearly as relaxing as the previous two tracks I mentioned, that attitude definitely hangs in the air, despite the more up tempo flow of the mix. Again, Galaxy Man’s level was another favorite of mine in its original incarnation, so I am happy once again to see another well done mix of one of my favorite tunes.

Okay, I won’t completely avoid talking about a pure electronic mix. It’s hard not to when “Tornado Blitz” was one of the best electronic mixes I have heard in years. As cliche as this might be to point out, you could blast this track in a rave, and non-game fans would never know the difference. Hell, at the end it could pass for an absurdly hard Dance Dance Revolution song! The point is, I had fun listening to this track build up to is eventual climax, where I’m sure it made a few lights flicker somewhere in a giant warehouse.

Although there were other tracks I enjoyed, the above mixes are the ones that stood out to me the most. I didn’t have any particular problem with any of the tracks. In fact, one of my favorite OC remixer, bLINd, was on this project. Having said that, the notable tracks work as a double edged sword. Obviously, I enjoyed the hell out of the mixes I discussed, but on the flip side, it made nearly every other mix fade in the background for me. Again, there was no “bad track” on this album to me, but that’s where I am left every time I listen to this project.

Anyway, I am sure not as many people will be as meticulous as I have been, and anyone who enjoyed the music of Mega Man 9 should download Mega Man 9: Back in Blue.

RATING: 7/10

To download Back in Blue for free, please visit ocremix.org.

All artwork by Alex Graziano, from ocremix.org.

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My Chemical Romance Fires Drummer

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Michael Pedicone, who has been the drummer for My Chemical Romance since last year, has been fired from the group after reportedly stealing from them.

“He was caught red handed stealing from the band and confessed to police after our show [September 1] in Auburn, Washington,” guitarist Frank Iero said in a recent blog.

Iero never specified what Pedicone stole from the group.

“We are heartbroken and sick to our stomachs over this entire situation,” Iero said. “The band has no intention of pressing charges or taking this matter any further than we have to. We just want him out of our lives. The people who play in this band are a family, and family should not take advantage of each other like he did.”

In response to the situation, Pedicone Tweeted: ”What happened is more complicated than it sounds but I did make a mistake. It was never my intention to hurt this band or all of you.”

Source: Yahoo! News

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*shels: Plains of the Purple Buffalo – Music Review

ARTIST: *shels
ALBUM TITLE: Plains of the Purple Buffalo
RECORD LABEL: Shelsmusic
RELEASED:
June 27, 2011

By Jon Robertson
Staff Writer, Illegitimate son of Irwin M. Fletcher

*shels have always been an intriguing yet somewhat boring band to me. They have the capability to be everything I ever wanted in heavy music and can be so redundant it’s like listening to your little brother’s band that has ten songs that are exactly the same.

I remember hearing their 2007 album Sea of the Dying Dhow for the first time and thinking that I just found a new favorite band. Then I listened to the album a few more times and it started driving me nuts. The songs all seemed to be exactly the same. Each track would meander around quietly like most post rock does then break into this gloriously heavy crescendo that most good post-metal is known for, but it seemed like the same exact chord progression and structure every time. Had this happened only once on the album, or these pattern had some other variations throughout, I would have been pleased as hell.

So when Plains of the Purple Buffalo (that is an insanely awesome album title by the way) came out in June I was hoping that the band had matured and progressed enough in the past four years that they had grown out of their repetitious ways. But they didn’t and again I became so disappointed that I felt the only thing that could cure my sorrow was to punch myself below the belt until the pain went away.

I left the album alone for almost three weeks and then one day I had a gloriously amazing blinding epiphany. These crazy sons of bitches were making a concept album (I’m not quite sure what the concept is though) and this repetition was on purpose. And just like that the Purple Buffalo went from being a big disappointment in the evolution of bison to huge leap and bound in the progress of the species.

Musically, Plains of the Purple Buffalo isn’t a whole lot different than Sea of the Dying Dhow. But the musician ship in particular the drum of work of Tom Harriman has grown tremendously and when it comes to heavy music and you can find a singer that actually sings instead of pooping out a bunch of gruff old growls you gotta be happy. Mehdi Safa’s vocals are tremendous, he has the ability to belt out some clean soaring vocals that fit perfectly with the high energy parts of *shels music.

Purple Buffalo also has a bit more variation in terms of the quiet parts by including horns and synths that give the album bit more texture. These different tones and timbres help greatly in keeping your interest long enough to what we all secretly want, the big loud heavy parts. The highlight of the album for me is track seven “Butterflies on Luci’s Way” because it’s a nice big thick love song and I’m always a big sap when it comes to tunes like that.

Both Safa and Harriman have come along way since their Deftones inspired rock with British band Mahumodo and while part of me wishes secretly that Mahumodo had continued, I can’t be bummed about the fact that these two dudes have moved on and created one of the best rock/metal albums of the year with Plains of the Purple Buffalo. Plus they run their own record label and that is badass. Strong work, gentleman; my humble apologies for misunderstanding your genre bending and original music all these years. My bad!!

RATING: 7/10

Front page and interior photo from last.fm

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Katy Perry Ties Michael Jackson Record

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This week, Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” became her fifth consecutive #1 song on the Billboard Top 100 chart, all of which are from the same album: Teemage Dream. Previously, the only artist to have five consecutive #1 songs from the same album was Michael Jackson.

The following are Perry’s #1 songs from Teenage Dream:
1. “California Gurls”
2. “Teenage Dream”
3. “Firework”
4. “E.T.”
5. “Last Friday Night”

Michael Jackson’s #1 songs from the album Bad are:
1. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”
2. “Bad”
3. “The Way You Make Me Feel”
4. “Man in the Mirror”
5.  ”Dirty Diana”

“Last Friday Night” also topped $2 million in digital sales this week. It is Perry’s eighth song to do so.

Source: Yahoo! News

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Amy Winehouse Found Dead in London Apartment

Photo from blogposttoday.com

Photo from blogposttoday.com

By Luke Baker
Copy Editor, Secret Agent Man

Singer and song-writer Amy Winehouse, 27, was recently found dead in her London apartment. According to TMZ, a press release from Metropolitan Police says that she was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a recent BBC post, Winehouse was said to appear “too drunk to perform” at a recent gig in Serbia and ended up pulling out of her European tour all together. Winehouse’s first album, Frank, debuted in 2003.

The highlight of her career was when she won five Grammy awards for the 2006 album Back to Black. Cause of death is still under investigation.

Source: BBCTMZ

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Bad Meets Evil: Hell: The Sequel

ARTIST: Bad Meets Evil
ALBUM TITLE: Hell: The Sequel EP
RECORD LABEL: Shady/Interscope
RELEASED:
June 14, 2011

By Eric Stuckart
Creator, Destroyer

Back when Royce the 5’9” rapped guest vocals on “Bad Meets Evil,” on Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP back in ‘99, I doubt that a lot of fans really expected them to make good on their promise to come back one day with a follow-up titled “Hell: The Sequel,” but they did, and it’s pretty much what anyone would have expected from the rejuvenated Eminem.

It could be argued that this is a continuation of his redemption started with last year’s excellent Recovery, as Royce and Eminem spent the better part of the last decade on non-speaking terms due to Royce’s falling out with D12. But, much like the results that he had with the aforementioned album, it seems like he’s continuing his hot streak, and Royce is more than able to keep up.

With a flow more akin to a mixtape due to its slightly disjointed nature, that doesn’t stop it from achieving its main goal, allowing for a platform for Em and Royce to completely tear shit up with their mic skills. Even on the lesser tracks, they’re still on fire, which really says something about their delivery.

As far as the lyrical quality, it’s a mixed bag at best. Much of the EP sounds like Eminem’s Recovery-era sound — more bombastic and hard hitting with less of a quirky nature — combined with a lyrical style more reminiscent of his nihilistic early records. That’s a nice way of saying that if you’re looking for his more introspective, self-examining work, you’re not going to find much of it here, as this is more the lyrical manifestation of Slim Shady than Marshall Mathers. Basically, most of the rhymes are done for the sake of rhyming and shock value, almost taking the approach of battle raps between Em and Royce. Even still, their rhymes are tight and funny when they need to be, but don’t be surprised if you hear more than a handful of more contemporary stars get thrown under the bus for the sake of a good rhyme. And as is with most Eminem songs, there is no cow too sacred.

Like I said, though, despite the fact that some of the rhymes fall a little too much on familiar topics, they don’t really take away from what Bad Meets Evil are trying to do. It’s evident that they’re having fun on the record, and the two rappers work together well over the course of the eleven songs (if you got the deluxe edition) without sounding like they were repeating themselves.

The only real dull moments on the EP are the Mike Epps-featuring “I’m On Everything,” a humorous ode to drugs, which just comes off as weird due to Eminem’s newfound sobriety, and “A Kiss,” with a beat that sounds a little too mainstream and for typical Em jams. The Eminem-produced “Lighters,” featuring up-and-comer Bruno Mars, along with “Take From Me,” were a bit of a surprise on the EP as well, being the sole ‘serious’ Eminem songs on the record. Not bad in their own right, they both drop the lyrical firepower, and the momentum along with it, in favor of having a mature moment. Arguably the two moments of clarity on the fever dream that the rest of the album is, they kind of serve more as speed bumps to the flow than the poignant statements that they really are.

Those two moments are short and sweet though, and for fans craving Eminem operating at the ferocity of his older days, you could do a lot worse than Hell: The Sequel. It doesn’t function quite as much as a great album from start to finish as it does a great showing of two rappers just letting loose without guidelines or boundaries. At it’s worst, it’s still a great distraction, and that’s its greatest asset.

RATING: 8.5/10

Front page photo from ddotomen.com, interior photo scanned from album cover.

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SKOLD: Anomie – Music Review

ARTIST: SKOLD
ALBUM TITLE:
Anomie
RECORD LABEL: Metropolis Records
RELEASED: May 10, 2011

By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassador to the Mushroom Kingdom

I don’t have much experience under my belt when it comes to Tim Skold. I am more of a casual listener of KMFDM, I have only dabbled in other bands he’s been a part of, but I am most familiar with his time as a part of Marilyn Manson. I am sure I’m already on the shitlists of hardcore industrial fans by admitting this right off the bat, but I’m a type of writer that feels the reader has the right to know how familiar the writer is with what they are talking about. You could say that since I haven’t heard decades of music relating to Skold, maybe I am unqualified to write this review. However, I am a strong believer that a body of work in any medium should be able to stand on it’s own without any hand holding from previous works. Of course, there are variations in that point of view of mine, but that’s a different article entirely.

Anyway, besides the Manson years, I really did enjoy SKOLD vs. KMFDM. To sum it up, I felt that the interludes in between tracks was a unique idea, and the overall album was a solid industrial piece. With Anomie, I was expecting a healthy mix of material that highlighted what Tim Skold is all about. I was right in my expectations, but the result turned out to be a double edged sword. There were as many moments that made me want to find an industrial club downtown as there were ones that caused me to check how much time there was left on a song.

The album starts off strong enough with “(This Is My) Elephant”, though the guitar effect used kind of reminded me of Manson’s Eat Me, Drink Me. Although I consider EMDM one of Manson’s weaker works, I never felt that this issue was Skold’s problem (mostly). “Suck” immediately goes towards a more typical industrial sound. So far, I was enjoying myself. I mean, I’m not an angsty teenager anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy music like this. Plus, “Black Out” picks up with a stronger feel to it. I hate to admit this sometimes, but I have a weakness when it comes to power chords.

“Angel of Noise” and “Satellite” is where I first encountered a problem with Anomie. As far as the former goes, it honestly felt like Skold was phoning in a standard KMFDM song. The drumming was nice and all, but certain sections came awfully close to venturing into an unintentional style parody. I wanted to like “Satellite,” but the track just dragged on for far too long. It was the musical equivalent of watching someone tire themselves out by pacing back and forth. The whole time I was waiting for it to go somewhere, but the payoff never happened.

Thankfully, “Becoming” managed to fully reignite my interest with a deep groove supplied by heavy electronics. This may just be my favorite track, as it is one of the few that forcefully dug it’s way into my memory. “The Hunger” however, ventures right back into Manson’s EMDM territory, but this time it is more reminiscent of the parts of that album that I couldn’t stand. There is nothing wrong with slowing things down. I’m a fan of emotionally heavy songs, in fact. It’s just that it’s far too easy to slip into a sound that feels too frail, and unfortunately that’s the feeling I was left with.

Once again, I feel like all was made right again with “Here Comes The Thunder.” I swear, it’s like Skold is doing this on purpose or something! Anyway, I still had that Manson vibe left over, but this time it sounded as if Skold had complete creative control over EMDM, which would have made that album much better. “And Then We Die” might win the award to the most aptly named goth track ever, but I can’t knock the way it sounds. To me, this is how you do a slower paced song without venturing to the ‘too frail’ territory.

The only problem I had with the overall album at this point is that it felt like it was too satisfied with itself. Nothing was sticking to me like a couple of tracks earlier in Anomie. “Miserably Never Ever” had the same tone as the previous track, which is fine, but the interchangeable nature of them didn’t help the stagnant vibe I was getting. “Tonight” does pick up the slack a bit with more of an upbeat spin and catchy chorus, but “What You See Is What You Get” goes right back into slow motion. The real difference is the minimalistic approach to close out the album. Again, no real problem, but I was left scratching my head.

I found myself satisfied with Anomie overall, but what really bothered me aside from the problems mentioned earlier was the flow. The last few tracks of the album do slide into each other in a very natural way, however. So what’s my beef? Well, the first half seemed so disjointed compared to what the rest of Anomie ended up morphing into. I know that Skold didn’t intend this at all, but it felt like he was experimenting with certain styles, unsure of where he wanted to go. Then suddenly he became too satisfied with a certain sound and let it go from there.

The album would have fared far better in my eyes if Skold took more time to mold and shape it into more of a streamlined experience. There are tons of albums out there that kick ass, but have lots of differences to them, so it’s not like I am against variety. Anomie, while having many bright spots, sounded like it couldn’t decide to have fun and play around or get serious and deliver more of an emotional impact.

RATING: 6/10

Photo courtesy of Metropolis Records.

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Cave In: White Silence – Music Review

ARTIST: Cave In
ALBUM TITLE:
White Silence
RECORD LABEL:
Hydra Head
RELEASED: May 24, 2011

By Eric Stuckart
Creator, Destroyer

Cave In is a band that has never been easily categorized throughout their storied career due to their inherent inability to record the same album twice. Perhaps it’s an inability to settle on a distinct style, but their style of choice has become that of uncertainty and a willingness to adventurously veer off into tangents on a whim.

Granted, they’re not as stylistically attention-deficit as many of their prog-metal peers out there — their modus operandi is more likely to flesh out their style shifts in full song bursts — it’s still excitingly jarring to hear what they come up with next.

Fortunately for us, there’s still a Cave In around to be wowed by, and it wasn’t always looking to be that way. One of the bigger names during metalcore’s formative years, along with Converge and Coalesce — pre-scenester oversaturation, mind you — Cave In were the oddballs of even that slowly growing scene, incorporating hints of space rock and leaning towards more progressive tendencies to temper their chaotic, aggressive early works. After giving in to their melodic, spacey leanings on the 2000 masterpiece Jupiter, they were snatched up by RCA Records. It should be mentioned that this was when major labels had finally realized that all nü metal was on its way out, and they were looking for the next big thing, so a lot of bands ended up getting lost in the shuffle.

While it was a pretty decent, albeit mainstream, rock record, Antenna was too much of a departure for most of their fans to handle, and when Cave In tried to go back a more aggressive sound, they ended up getting dropped by their label. So, they returned to the underground that birthed them, collected their rejected demos from their would-be second album for RCA, and released it as Perfect Pitch Black. It sounded a bit like Jupiter with more of a metal edge, but by this point, the band had had enough for the time being, and went on an indefinite hiatus in 2006.

So, in ’09 when rumors had emerged that they would be reforming and recording new material, I was very excited. However, the years gone had seen Cave In evolve into something even darker than their older material had hinted at. Their subsequent comeback EP, Planets of Old was heavy, dirty, and sounded like it was caked in the blood and sweat that had come by the way of getting screwed over by the majors. The EP showed a band more comfortable in their own skin, culling together all of their influences to create four songs that didn’t necessarily fit together stylistically, but it was still undeniably Cave In.

And with that we have White Silence, which is even more of a curve ball than anything else they have done. Much like Planets of Old, I haven’t really decided yet if it works well as an album from start to finish, per se, but it’s definitely got the makings of one of their most experimental collections of songs ever. Considering the adventurous nature of their body of work as a whole, the fact that they’re still able to defy conventions and expectations all while writing great songs is staggering.

Incorporating elements of everything they’ve done thus far, as well as heavy doses of influence from singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky’s solo work and singer/bassist Caleb Scolfield’s side project Zozobra, it’s a very interesting ride indeed. Decidedly, this album is one that completely reveals itself over multiple listens, as immediacy isn’t its strongest trait.

The self-titled intro is probably the most uncharacteristic song on the album. Sounding very much like a lo-fi black metal song, it shows yet another new side to the already multi-faceted band. Brodsky’s vocals are raspy and incensed, and unlike anything we’ve ever heard from him. This leads into the steamrolling “Serpents,” sounding like the aforementioned Zozobra, and completely shows the band’s new allegiance to more sludge metal influences in their work.

“Sing My Loves” is likely to become one of Cave In’s most beloved songs, and for good reason. The song is a slow burning, eight minutes of buildups of melody and aggression, until the whole thing gives out, leaving listeners with one of the only moments on the album that recalls their classic, melodic and spacey sound. “Centered” is fast and heavy, and owes more than a little to Converge, but rips from start to finish just the same. “Summit Fever” recalls some of the more experimental parts of the band’s more chaotic, early work.

The last third of White Silence is Cave In at their most experimental, closing things out on a slightly mellower note. It’s hard to miss the subtle Beatles influence on “Heartbreaks, Earthquakes,” and “Iron Decibels” has a bouncy, proggy rhythm tethered to a psychedelic midsection, full of fuzzed-out keys and feedback galore. Finally, the album ends on the near-acoustic “Reanimation,” shows the band pushing out into outer space even more than they had ever before. As quiet and reserved as it is, it just has the feel of otherworldly travel, and closes the album out on a very high note.

Ultimately, White Silence is one of those albums that will require many listens to really grasp completely, but by this point the band knows their audience and respects them enough to not have to hold their hands. This works to their advantage, as it gives them a lot of room to work with, and like their past material, this album is no different in that sense. Some fans may be disappointed by their unwillingness to return to former glories, but I applaud their constant sense of reinvention. It keeps things fresh, and Cave In are clearly not running out of new ideas.

RATING: 8.5/10

Photos from facebook.com/CaveIn.Official.

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Fall of the Albatross: Entanglement – Music Review

ARTIST: Fall of the Albatross
ALBUM TITLE: Entanglement
RECORD LABEL: Self-Released
RELEASED: May 18, 2011

By Eric Stuckart
Creator, Destroyer

Throughout my days exploring for the weirdest and the heaviest that metal music has to offer, I’ve encountered a lot of genre mashing when it comes down to progressive and technical metal bands. I’ve heard bands that try to shoehorn everything in there just to be weird, and then I’ve heard bands that throw all the elements into the music akin to that of a master chef. To those bands, everything has its purpose. That being said, while I can’t say that everything that Fall of the Albatross does is completely original and/or unheard of, they definitely have a unique spin on what very often becomes a race to play as many notes as possible.

Entanglement, the debut EP by the Queens band who calls their style progtechjazzmacore, is a fine display of a young band that has in some ways found their niche in fusing noodly tech metal — prone to spastic guitar freakouts — to funk and latin-infused rhythms. The proof is in the final product; the way that they’re able to transition back and forth sounds effortless, and they have a pretty good understanding of melody and how to make it all work within the context of the heavier moments. This is helped further by Ray Hodge’s soulful vocals, which are unique and original compared to a great number of heavy bands that incorporate clean vocals. It doesn’t hurt that he can really belt out some varied screams as well.

The album is full of moments that seem like genuine contradictions that really work for the pacing. “Enjoy Yo’self” goes from sounding hypertechnical like Psyopus to something more restrained and funky, with some nice atmospheric guitar effects until completely going into a 70s funk keyboard break. Somehow, this bridges into some ambient sounds that would find themselves perfectly at home in an old John Carpenter film, followed by a bass drop and a huge breakdown. Is it a little out of left field? Most certainly, but that’s sort of the point, and they do it well enough that it doesn’t break the flow to their songs.

They have a style that really keeps listeners guessing as to what the band is going to throw at them next, but they do a great job at stringing it all together without sounding unfocused or convoluted. Out of all the oddball influences that the band has, hands down the most prevalent and original are their nods to 70s funk music. It just permeates their sound throughout the album, and combined with Hodge’s clean vocals, it all just makes for an exciting listen.

The other thing I like about Entanglement is how every time I listen to it, I discover something that I didn’t notice before. For an EP that’s only about 25 minutes long, it’s cool to walk away from it feeling like there’s always another layer that I didn’t discover on previous listens. Sounding like what would come out if one were to throw Mr. Bungle, Candiria and the aforementioned Psyopus, along with a whole bunch of other more obscure ingredients into a blender, Fall of the Albatross manages to take all of their quirky musical obsessions and create a very unique concoction. And like the best cooks, they can take familiar ingredients that you’ve experienced before and make it still seem fresh and new. While it isn’t perfect, it’s a great first effort and shows some very cool ideas that I never really thought I’d see introduced to the always interesting world of progressive metal.

RATING: 8/10

To purchase a digital or physical copy of Entanglement, visit their website at fallofthealbatross.com.

Photos courtesy of the band.

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