Monday, 1 July 2013

Album Review: Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late

From the very first chugging riff and heavy growl of album opener, ‘’Champion’’, followed by a pop-drenched chorus, it's clear that Falling In Reverse have a hard time deciding which kind of band they want to be. And once frontman Ronnie Radke begins to rap mid-way through the song, the line between post-hardcore and pop is constantly blurred. It continues with the synth-laden anthems, ‘’Fuck The Rest’’ and ‘’Bad Girls Club’’, which sound just like every other pop-punk band, (with a little extra cheese in the form of a cheerleader sing-along).
While the title-track is catchy and radio-friendly enough for a lead single but with typical lyrics and generic beats, nothing new is really bought to the table.
‘’Rolling Stone ‘’sounds like a mess of brutal metal riffs and poppy hooks, while ‘’Alone’’ sounds like a mix between pop and synth-rock - it’s all very perplexing.
Still, Fashionably Late does have some straightforward rock songs: ‘’Over When It’s Over’’ and ‘’Drifter’’ strip the music down to simple hard-hitting tracks with more thoughtful lyrics. The latter a sizzling country-rock inspired track and one of the slower songs of the album.
But it all dwindles down with ‘’Game Over’’, which uses actual video game music to emphasise the song’s title, before the band turn back to the metal riffs and vicious growls in ‘’Self-Destruct Personality’’.
Diversity isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s important to experiment. But there is a right way to blend and explore different musical genres. This, however, is not the way to do it.


- Amy Parker

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Album Review: Letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful

When L.A rockers, Letlive, announced themselves with their third album, 2010’s stunning ‘Fake History’, the post-hardcore scene was treated to a controlled frenzy of fierce, chaotic and gritty music, along with truly explosive live shows.
Thankfully, the immense sound that makes up Letlive’s core – the pulse-pounding energy, the in-your-face ferocity and striking choruses - is still all there, left untampered with on their fourth album release, ‘The Blackest Beautiful’. But from the very first lyrics of lead single Banshee (Ghost Fame),We’re here to fulfil every one of your dreams’, it’s clear that the band mean business.  This, along with the politically charged America’s Beautiful Black Market reveals the band’s ever-growing maturity when it comes to song writing, as does the groove-orientated The Dope Beat, which focuses on staying true to your roots, ‘…Burnt down my house, now I’ve got nowhere to call home’.
Punchier songs, Empty Elvis and The Fear Fever are album highlights, showcasing the band’s ability to mix aggression with delicate melody. The latter is an adrenaline-filled party anthem, reminiscent of ‘Fake History’s, Renegade 86’, while the former packs a punch with its piercing chorus wrapped in brutal vocals, delivered brilliantly by frontman Jason Butler, who’s personality and swagger shine through more than ever.
Indeed, the album is littered with these shining moments from Butler, making it truly his finest performance. When the haunting Virgin Dirt – a laid back, yet intense affair – kicks in, creating a great contrast to the two previous tracks, we’re treated to another of his flashes of brilliance and passion; the rawness of the song only emphasised by its ending, when Butler, after tearing out some his most personal lyrics, takes a moment to compose himself, then mutters the words ‘I’m okay’, before violins see the song out, adding to the its beauty.
Dreamer’s Disease is an incredibly lively song, containing one of the album’s most memorable choruses, while Pheromone Cvlt focuses on the melodic talents within the band, providing a tantalising and thought-provoking song.  
27 Club is another anthem; it’s incredible hook leading way to an enigmatic outro to finish the album off perfectly.
As always, Letlive provide a refreshing and welcome change from a lot of today’s bands; their music full of an attitude rarely seen these days, which this album had in abundance. It’s a deep and at times emotional set of songs that make ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, unquestionably, an ‘album of the year’ candidate.


- Amy Parker

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Ten Years Ago Today...Album Review: Brand New - Deja Entendu

Ten years ago today (17-06-2003), one of the most beautiful and influential albums I've ever heard was released to the world. It's release went virtually un-noticed by the mainstream music world, as has a lot of Brand New's work. But this album changed my views on music and how lyrics can be used to tell stories - something that I feel no band does better than Brand New, at least not one that I've heard. 
'Deja Entendu' is still an album that inspires me tremendously to this day and it was also one of the first albums I ever reviewed. 
So, to celebrate the ten year anniversary of one of the greatest albums ever released, here is my review. While you read, I'm going to listen to the album once again. And if you've never listened to 'Deja Entendu' - please do, because you're seriously missing out.


'There’s a lot to be said for a band such as Brand New. A band of four young guys, who instead of succumbing to the temptation of fame and the fortune it brings, have stayed true to their morals, their hearts and their fans. They’ve taken the high road; declined countless offers to ensure them the commerciality that would surely see big paycheques rolling in. They have remained and plan to remain, a fan’s band. And for a band like Brand New to create a stunning album such as this, their second album, it is almost painful to realise just how much potential they have and how big they could become if only they took on one of those offers. At the same time, being so un-commercial is one of the main reasons they have the vast and passionate fan base that they do. But I digress…
Getting more to the point, the four alternative rockers, hailing from Long Island, New York, are positive to attract ever more followers and even more attention with the irresistible sound revealed within their latest musical instalment. Deja Entendu opens with a slow, melodic intro that leaves much to the imagination and instantly intrigues you as front man and lyrical saviour Jesse Lacey uses his soothing voice in almost a whisper on the track simply titled Tautou.
After this, a more upbeat sound graces the listeners ears. Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades, is every bit as powerful as it is mysterious. A song, which explores the physiological turmoil’s of sex and relationships in the cleverest of ways and holds a chorus that will instantly get a crowd moving and singing along.
Track after track, this record deals with conflictions of the mind on a much more mature level to the album’s predecessor Your Favourite Weapon. Songs such as, I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin light – which presents the pressures and downfalls of life constantly on the road and Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t - which portrays enhanced feelings of anxiety, dread and paranoia in the most sincere of ways, are both poetic and deep. As Lacey spills out lyrics flooded with a smug humour, ‘I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget’, there is no person who would doubt him or doubt that Brand New are serious this time.
Songs Guernica and Good to know… are highlights. They harbour some very moving melody lines and hooks that catch you and are unwilling to release their grip until you’ve listened very closely, until you’ve realised just how great this album and band are. Along with all this, the haunting rendition of Play Crack The Sky provides the finishing touches to a near-perfect album and still, it is sure to leave listeners wanting more.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that the band have a lot to say. Jesse Lacey exposes his very soul on every track with a powerful emotion. It’s almost as if the greatness of his lyrics can make up for all the other empty and ungraceful words seen in the world today. He just simply cannot be matched for his willingness to bear all, both the good and the bad. This adds to the spectacular musimanship – very much improved on over last couple of years as it showcases each member’s ability to be different and try new things. Throughout this album, the band stays in firm control of every song. They take their music through highs and lows, ups and downs and not at one point, do you feel they are lost. They know exactly what they are doing.
Often sounding like a sombre tribute to life and its tests, Deja Entendu is an album for any music lover and definitely an album for anybody needing a shining light to guide them through all the struggles life can sometimes bring. It will take a while to find another record quite like this, one that drips with honesty and exhales inspiration. A record that can at times take your breath away, yet at the same time, can breathe life into you.
Brand New have always been underdogs - intensely artistic and rare underdogs at that. So much so, that with a hint of cynicism, they shrewdly named this album Deja Entendu – which derives the French meaning of 'already heard'. After listening to this album, you will realise that no words have ever been more misleading and yet ironic at the same time. But this is all part of what makes Brand New such a special and enigmatic spectacle of a band. Accordingly, their second album happens to be the very epitome of passion and creativity.'

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- Amy Parker

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Live Review: Bullet For My Valentine – O2 Academy, Birmingham – 12/03/12

 (Support: Miss May I and Halestorm) 

Tonight marks Bullet For My Valentine’s first show in the home of metal in over two years. Since then they have dominated the music world; selling out arenas and seeing millions of their albums fly off the shelves. And this Birmingham crowd can hardly wait for them to dominate the stage once again.

Miss May I get the party started. The American metallers take to the stage in a ball of energy and fiercely power through hard-hitters such as ‘Forgive and Forget’ and the aptly title, ‘Relentless Chaos’, before immersing the crowd in a brilliant rendition of ‘Masses Of A Dying Breed’.
Halestorm (credit: Sarah-Jane Kinkade)
Their time is short but frenzied and certainly starts the night off right, while the recent Grammy award winners, Halestorm bring a little attitude into the fray.
With fan-favourites, such as the award-winning, ‘Love Bites (And So Do I) and the catchy ‘I get Off’, Lzzy Hale displays her powerful vocals, as the band tears through their set and doesn’t let up for one second. The anthems ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Rock Show’ get the crowd going and show off the band’s amazing talents onstage.

But it’s the main attraction, Bullet For My Valentine, who impress the most. By the time they’ve opened with the anger-filled ‘Breaking Point’, it’s already evident that they’ve matured a lot as live band over the last few years.
In fact, it’s evident even before that, as the Welsh boys make sure to give the crowd a little ‘O Fortuna’ and Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, before taking to the stage, making for a fresh and different kind of entrance.
Not afraid to get creative and shake things up, a stripped-down rendition of the thought-provoking ’The Fight’, sees frontman Matt Tuck soothe the crowd with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar, before the rest of the band joins in, turning the song into another mosh-pit starter.
Bullet For My Valentine (credit: Sarah-Jane Kinkade)
The more recent ‘Dirty Little Secret’ makes it’s live debut on British shores and includes Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale’s return to the stage, as she joins the band to sing a duo. Her presence brings a deeper meaning to the song, as her and Matt Tuck’s voices complement each other brilliantly. It all makes for a very exciting live Bullet show.
Playing songs both new and old, the band bring all the most-loved anthems out. ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’ and ‘Waking The Demon’ bring the house down with their infectious ferocity, while the slower ‘Tears Don’t’ Fall’ makes sure that long-time fans go home happy. It’s a song the band have been playing live for many years now, but it’s one still delivered with the same passion and vigour as ever, as is ‘Her Voice Resides’; making its live return after a seven year hiatus, it still packs a punch to this day and proves to be a perfect head-banger.
The title track to the band’s new album, ‘Temper, Temper’ is an upbeat one, that gives off that party vibe definitely felt by the mosh-pit, while the powerful ‘POW’ makes for a slower and, at the same time, aggressive track to get the crowd to sing along, as does the heavier ‘Scream Aim Fire’. This huge heavyweight of a song turns the volume up and keeps it there, a wild crowd loving every minute.

Tonight shows just why Bullet is considered the biggest British metal band in recent memory; their talent and enthusiasm evident throughout and what better place to do this, than in the home of metal?


-          Amy Parker

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Album Review: Bullet For My Valentine - Temper Temper

Bullet For My Valentine certainly are a band of two halves. On the one hand, they’re a hugely successful band, flying the flag for modern British metal. Their talent and determination seeing them sell millions of albums and playing to arenas all over the world. 
On the other hand, they’re a frustrating band and it becomes increasingly obvious that they aren’t reaching their full potential.
Their fourth album, ‘Temper Temper’ only highlights these points. It’s an album of both promise and disappointment.
The first songs released from the album, the title track ‘Temper Temper’ and ‘Riot’, while catchy, are surely among the weakest songs ever produced by the Welsh metallers. Both are typical rock songs, with obvious pop hooks, which, while not a far cry from Bullet’s previous efforts, are mediocre at best.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Blog:'s been a while

I've been busy...very busy lately, with work and editing my book, I haven't had the time to write any blogs and for that, I apologise.
It's also meant that my review of Bullet For My Valentine's new album, 'Temper Temper' is still unfinished in a Word document on my laptop. The skeleton of the review has been written but I need to flesh it out a lot more (see what I did there?) Hopefully, I'll get around to it within the next couple of days, so keep an eager eye on this here blog.
It's been awhile since I've written a music review, what with all the writing I've done on gaming in the last six months, but I have tons of ideas for music articles, so I'm also looking to work on some ideas in that area as well.

Also, as the first edit of my book is about 3/4 of the way done, I will be looking to update you more on the process and maybe I'll even upload the blurb I've written out for it, to give you a rough idea of what it's about. Zombies!
So look out for a lot more updates and annoying info as to how close I am to having it completed. Even though the first edit is nearly done, the book is not exactly where I want it to be yet. I think a second or third edit is in order before I'm ready to send it out into the world.
I'm also really excited because I've recently been talking to a very talented artist who has agreed to design me some front cover ideas for the first book! Of course, we're in the early stages at the moment, but look out for updates on that as well.

What I need from you: If you would be so kind, I NEED you to tell your friends about this blog.. I really need some more subscribers if I am to make this blog really work. So be sure to share this blog and mention that I'm writing a book about zombies to your zombie-loving friends and acquaintances.
I'm also looking to create a proper website and as I am inept in the working's of such a task, I am looking for someone well adversed in web design to help me out. So if you know anyone who's any good and willing to help, please let them know!

In short, more updates, more articles, book news and an ask for help in the field of web design!

Thanks for sticking with me!

Until next time...

Album Review: Linkin Park - Living Things

The early 2000s was a strange time for music. Nu-metal had become the newest craze and the metal world had undertaken a massive transformation. Swapping guitar solos for music sampling and generally becoming one of the most hated musical genres of all time.
While most nu-metal bands around this time were busy trying to capitalize on the genre’s new-found success, Linkin Park – who whether they intended to or not, did indeed start out as a nu-metal band, make no mistake - released their debut album, Hybrid Theory. Combining angst-riddled lyrics and intoxicating anthems, it went on to sell 24 million copies worldwide and is largely considered as one of the first great American rock albums of the 00s.
It’s fair to say that Linkin Park have become a much different band since then. As nu-metal’s short-lived reign at the top of the metal world began to decline, there came a difficult transition for a lot of bands who were forced to either change their style or risk diminishing. Linkin park had to evolve in order to survive and they did. For the most part, their evolution has favoured well (Minutes to Midnight), while other times it hasn’t completely won over fans (A Thousand Suns).

The band’s fifth studio album, Living Things is another step in their evolution. Swapping angsty lyrics for a more grown up take on the world, they tackle all kinds of different subjects lyrically - from faith to relationships and politics.
Lost in the Echo is the album’s opener. It brings back the rap of LP old to deliver a dance-style track with an infectious riff and chorus while the first single, Burn It Down hones the band’s signature sound.  It’s an anthemic and dark song while Lies Greed Misery and Until It Breaks are gritty tracks. Combining rap with tearing screams they both make for very noisy songs.
The two-minute Victimized starts in all out upheaval. Chaotic and edgy, it feels a lot like old LP, with front man Chester Bennington tearing out screams deep from within.  But is a slight disappointment considering its shortness and that it’s over before you’ve realised. It somewhat redeems itself when it unravels to bare a softer side. It’s more of an interlude as it leads effortlessly into the brilliant Roads Untraveled, which is a ballad-style poignant song, bearing some of the more personal lyrics, ‘the love that you lost, wasn’t worth the cost and in time you’ll be glad that it’s gone.’
It’s not just LP’s lyrics that are more grown up; the music is more mature as well. The thought-provoking Castle of Glass shows this. With an upbeat yet laid-back tone to it, it’s one of the better tracks within the album. Containing a haunting riff and catchy hooks, while In My Remains is proof that LP still know how to create great rock songs.
Skin to Bone is another short yet important track. Blending Chester Bennington’s always brilliant vocals with Mike Shinoda’s, it’s a lingering and catchy song while Powerless is another ballad-style song. Lyrics, ’10,000 promises, 10,000 ways to lose’, accompanying the great musicianship to help build up to an almighty ending to the album.

It remains to be seen whether, Living Things will be another enjoyed leap forward for fans. And while it’s not a perfect album, it certainly has its moments here and there. Living Things is a great mix of electro infused and experimental tracks, meanwhile LP are careful not to abandon their rock roots. It’s clear to see that they’re not afraid to explore untapped territories; such is their developing musical diversity. Regardless, there will still be a lot of fans who believe that Linkin Park’s best days lay with Hybrid Theory. But that’s ok. Their fan base will always be present. And hey - you can’t please everyone.

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- Amy Parker