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.

* * *
- Amy Parker

Album Review: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

When a band of Foo Fighters’ calibre gets ready to release a new album, there is always a lot of anticipation involved. But with the spotlight placed firmly above them, the rock legends don’t know the meaning of the word disappoint. This, the newest edition to their extraordinary musical arsenal is no exception.
After the enormous success of 2007’s ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,’ many questioned where the Foo’s were to go next. From headlining Wembley stadium in front of 18,000 people to performing with some of the idols they grew up listening to, they have pretty much explored every avenue. Maybe it’s this that made the quartet decide to take a step back, take it all in and go back to basics. And you can’t get much more basic or old school then deciding to strip it down and record this album on analogue tape and in Dave Grohl’s own garage.
The opener ‘Bridge Burning’ is an upbeat hook-filled catchy rock track, whereas the first single ‘Rope’ is different but equally catchy. Its slower build up may have to grow on you.
‘White Limo’ has Grohl tearing out screams throughout making this a brilliantly heavy track while ‘These Days’ is the opposite. A chilled yet rough track, it showcases the great song-writing skills of the alt-rockers.
‘Back & Forth’ is just a great rock anthem, pulsating with grooves and a brilliantly constructed chorus it brings back the stadium-sized riffs and hooks, and it’s sure to become a fan-favourite.
The charged up ‘Miss The Misery’ is a showcase of flawless musical skill, much like the rest of the album. While there’s no over-blown guitar solos – the guitar work is immense - blending perfectly with the melodies of the album and taking it to another level along with the as-always brilliant drum skills from stick man Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl’s amazing vocals.
With Butch Vig taking the production reigns and Krist Novoselic appearing on ‘I Should Have Known’, you can just feel the history, nostalgia and electricity between them and Grohl, it being the first time the three have worked together since 1991 when they made that album you may have heard of. The result is a brilliantly chilled out song – the emotion evident in Grohl’s voice as he pays tribute to his friend who died in 2008 with the heartfelt lyrics. ‘No I cannot forgive you yet,’ You leave my heart in debt’, may also be a reference to a certain someone else as well. Probably the best track on the entire album, this one will surely give you goose bumps.
‘Walk’ is another belter with the words, ‘I never wanna die,’ ripped out throughout and showing that the Foo Fighters still have plenty more they want to accomplish.
All in all, ‘Wasting Light’ is vintage Foo’s. Its classic rock n’ roll mixed with the signature sound of the rocks most likeable band. And it’s one that shows the Foo Fighters still have plenty of life left in them and have no plans of slowing down. And who would want them to?

* * * *
- Amy Parker

Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

To say it hasn’t been an easy ride for Avenged Sevenfold since the release of their self-titled album back in 2007 would be a massive understatement. It was about a year ago that Huntington Beach’s finest began to write their fifth album. But tragedy struck them, when a mere two weeks before they were due to enter the studio to begin recording, the life of drummer and founding member Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan ended suddenly on the 28th December. The four surviving members - vocalist M Shadows, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance along with bassist Johnny Christ were left devastated. And they were not only mourning the loss of their much-loved bandmate, friend and brother, but they were left to pick up the pieces. Decide where to go and what to do next. After much agonising over whether or not to continue without their friend they decided that the least they could do was pay tribute to The Rev, by releasing the album they had all written together. The last music The Rev ever created. And with The Rev’s favourite drummer, Dream Theatre’s Mike Portnoy coming to the aid of the band by recording drum tracks that The Rev had already written, the setting was set for an epic album. And while it may be that, it is also an emotional roller coaster.
The opening track, the title track, ‘Nightmare’ is a scorcher of a song. Combining gargantuan riffs with fast-paced drumming and intense vocals. From its simple, yet mysterious beginning to its explosive end, it showcases A7X at their very best.
‘Welcome To The Family’ provides a punk style infusion of heavy drumming and a catchy chorus while ‘Danger Line’ looks at the perils of war though a soldiers eyes with a powerful chorus and emotional lyrics. The complete opposite of this song would be ‘God Hate’s Us All’ – which is quite simply heavy as f*ck. This track sees absolutely brutal vocals, revealing the utter anger the band feels for having their friend taken away, collide with a ferocious chorus that is sure to be a mosh-pit favourite.
‘Buried Alive’ is a standout track. Starting off with a blues sounding guitar line that is arguably the best intro throughout the album, it draws you in. This is then driven into a smooth, yet powerful vocal line that eventually sees the song turn into a stadium sized rock anthem that has Metallica influence written all over it.
It’s in songs like ‘Natural Born Killer’ and ‘Save Me’ that you begin to contemplate the realisation that Mike Portnoy has captured The Rev’s unique sound and style of drumming like no other could. While the latter song is a gothic epic - both heavy and haunting with piercing guitars, ‘Natural Born Killer’ is punchy and edgy. One of the fastest songs on the album that bears an incredible riff that will go over and over in your head. The song is infectious with both a catchy chorus and guitar solo mixed with some incredbile and whinding vocal lines.
Throughout the album you can feel the overwhelming loss the band has gone though and had to deal with. Songs ‘So Far Away’ and ‘Victim’ contain gruelling lyrics that contain so much emotion it can be hard to listen to. Both songs make it sound like M Shadows could burst into tears at any moment while singing, ‘I have so much to say but you’re so far away’ and ‘Stories full of tears. Remembering your life 'cause we wish that you were here’. ‘So Far Away’ contains one of the guitar solos of the album; it’s both beautiful and emotional.
‘Tonight The World Dies’ reveals an eerie guitar line and showcases possibly the best ever vocals recorded by M Shadows as he tears out such intensity, emotion and passion it will give you instant goose bumps.
Easily the most difficult song to listen to on the album is ‘Fiction’ – the last song ever written by The Rev and containing some of his brilliant and unique vocals which create a great harmony with M Shadows’ vocals. Throughout the whole song, there is a haunting piano line that keeps the track at the same pace. The song is beautiful in its mystery as the words, ‘I know you’ll find your own way when I’m not with you tonight’ reverberate with more meaning than they were intended to when they were written.
Wherever The Rev is, he must be proud. The music that he had always said would change the world finally has its chance thanks to the courage and determination of the remaining Avenged Sevenfold members.

* * * * *

- Amy Parker

Album Review: Metallica - Beyond Magnetic

Released to coincide with Metallica’s monumental 30th anniversary - this EP is made up of four songs, each worthy of their place.
Seemingly left on the cutting room floor of the band’s 2008 return to form ‘Death Magnetic’ recording sessions there’s diversity abound.
‘Beyond Magnetic’, is a perfect blend of the classic thrashy riffs that Metallica helped invent and the pulsating grooves that they’ve refined throughout the years.

Both ‘Hate Train’ and Hell and Back’ are slow yet tantalising tracks with brilliant guitar work throughout. The first seeps with a gritty tone and a melodic chorus, bringing the thrash back into Metallica all the while keeping a constant steady pace. While the latter is a throwback to the band’s ‘Load’ days with its laid back atmosphere and sharp vocals mixed with plenty of attitude.
‘Just a Bullet Away’, flows effortlessly from start to finish with rhythmic vocals and an infectious riff. It all gets serious when a memorising breakdown comes in, which showcases Metallica’s ingenious song writing capabilities, as well as their individual musical talents.
Meanwhile, everything is taken to a whole new level when ‘Rebel of Babylon’ kicks in. It swerves all over the place. Whether it’s the fast-paced riffs and soaring guitar solos or the brilliant drumming, it builds up into 8 minutes of everything that makes exciting metal.

Even within four songs, Metallica have managed to capture their unique essence once again to deliver an EP with something for everyone. Hopefully once the band finally hit the studio again, they will continue to deliver the same.

                         * * * *

-         -  Amy Parker

Album Review: Incubus - If Not Now, When?

It’s been a long time since the band’s 2006 album ‘Light Grenades’ hit the stores. It wasn’t a bad album - presenting some great rock anthems. But it failed to impress the die-hards, who sensed something was missing.
What was heard was the sound of a band drying up in what was once an abundant pool of creativity.
If that was the case then ‘If Not Now, When?’ will sound to them like a band that has finally dried up completely.
Straight away it’s evident that this album just doesn’t work for a band that once held the power to create exciting and original anthems. The moments of slap-bass and the blend of funk and rock seems to have gone. More importantly – it doesn’t sound like Incubus.
It’s a repetitive affair with ‘Isadore’ doing little to impress despite a few memorable opening moments, while some may question the point in the short and dull ‘Defiance’, where nothing really happens or encourages you to keep you listening.
‘Friends and Lovers’ is ultimately a cheap and…well…boring love song, as front man Brandon Boyd sings the simple yet cheesy, ‘Because in the end, we are friends and lovers.’
There are some encouraging signs of life though. The title track – while it may throw people immediately off guard with its 80’s beats and rock ballady feel- is in itself an enjoyable track, it slowly builds up, all the while keeping a steady and controlled pace throughout. ‘Promises, Promises’, is another slow track, but a chilled out and catchy one. But it’s one that ultimately does nothing for the album. While once ‘The Original’ gets past its shaky opening and gets a few minutes in, turns out to be one of the best moments present.
One thing that is a constant is Brandon Boyd’s incredible vocals. This he effortlessly shows in the throughout. Especially in the first single ‘Adolescents’ – which is a touchy and more upbeat song while still following the same formula with an irritatingly slow pace.
‘Thieves’ is where the pace finally picks up. With its catchy melodies and superb chorus it’s sure to be one for the masses whereas ‘In The Company of Wolves’ is a seven minute blockbuster of the older-style Incubus’ calibre. Showcasing some brilliant guitar work and haunting tones enhanced by some great arrangements to show why the rock veterans have been so successful.
‘Switchblade’ is more like it. Immediately sounding like something off the band’s 1999 ‘Make Yourself’, it brings back the funky tones, offbeat drums and catchy choruses that Incubus has become renowned for. Although it’s still not enough to make up for what is ultimately a disappointing and lacklustre album.
For the occasional fan, ‘If Not Now, When?’ may impress in some places. But most die-hard fans looking for the old Incubus will be sorely frustrated.
All of this makes the band sound like one that may have run out of ideas. Precariously scraping the bottom of the barrel in hopes of coming up with a decent song, which even five years ago seemed to come to them so naturally. It’s a shame to say that Incubus’ best days seem to be far behind them.
* * *
- Amy Parker

Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold - City Of Evil

City Of Evil is Avenged Sevenfold’s third album and their first being signed to Warner Bros. With the success of their 2003 album Waking The Fallen,  - a dark and mysterious one at that, thrusting them into the spotlight, you have to wonder why they would want to change a thing. But if fans ran out in anticipation to buy what they thought would turn out to be somewhat of a Waking The Fallen part 2, you would have to think they would be greatly disappointed to learn, that the blistering screams and scratchy production style that hardcore fans came to love is virtually non – existent. Then again that disappointment wouldn’t have lasted long. City Of Evil is an album that A7X simply needed to make. An album that will define how much their music has matured and just why exactly they are one of the best, if not, the best band in the world right now. It is an album that will ensure nobody easily forgets about them, at the same time, it will wash away any doubts you might have had about them.
Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, Avenged Sevenfold has always been greatly influenced by everything from Metallica to Guns N’ Roses, from The Misfits to Mr Bungle. They have become a band that is well known for its versatile playing and style of music. And with this album, they will become one band that can say they have discovered their own style of playing and can hold their own alongside any other band in the world.
With no track on this album lasting less than 5 minutes, and the longest lasting a lengthy near 9 and a half minutes long, there is a certain swagger about the band and music alike. Whether it’s front man M Shadows flexing his vocal chords beyond reason, or the fact that this album contains some of the most exciting and fascinating guitar solos and duels (performed by guitar maestros Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance) you will have ever heard, there is not an ounce of disappointment among the 11 tracks.
The first track Beast and the Harlot sets a precedent for the rest of the album. It has attitude, pulse-pounding rhythm and a chorus that is catchy as hell. More importantly, it’s turned straight up to 11! This continues throughout songs such as Blinded In Chains and the exceptionally harmonizing Bat County – a song based on Hunter S. Thompson’s brilliant novel - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Trashed And Scattered is a song that shows you just why Avenged are as clever as they are creative. A song that will leave you with a foot-print in your ear, you will understand why you would never want to get into a fist fight with any member of the band (as if seeing M Shadows wouldn’t convince you enough.) Musically, this album is as unpredictable as anything, the guys have gone all out with a string orchestra that presents itself on a number of songs, including the wonderfully over the top and pretty much epic Strength Of The World and The Wicked End, both of which are breath taking. The lyrics on the album deal with a lot of different issues. From war and ignorance to end of the world concepts and the tragic and devastating murder of legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott – who greatly influenced lead guitarist Synyster Gates. The song simply titled Betrayed portrays the band’s feelings on Dimebag’s untimely and disgusting death at the hands of the shameful Nathan Gale with the up most emotion. This is very evident both vocally as M Shadows shows off his great vocal range and musically throughout the song, one that is dedicated to one of the greatest musicians of all time.
Seize The Day is a step in a different direction. Following in the footsteps of the great Guns N’ Roses ballads of the 80s, this song is much more smooth and passionate as well as harmonic.
M.I.A. is the final song. It’s a song that is just a astounding as the rest and deals with the turmoil of having friends of the band members fighting in the war. The song starts off slow with soothing vocals and eventually kicks into a thrashy and inventive skyscraper of a song with sweeping guitars and harsh drumming, a great way to end the album.
Through all of this, you will learn that Avenged Sevenfold has mixed their many influences together in an intensely creative way. Any other band and this combination probably wouldn’t work. But this band is different. They have stunning musimanship and a firm grasp on what it takes to make an amazing album. This album will shake things up like no other band has done for a long time. Certain bands and acts that will change the face of music forever and change the world forever. Not only will A7X do this, they will drag the face of music into the future and likely turn the world upside down and steal its lunch money!

* * * * *
- Amy Parker

Album Review: Brand New - Deja Entendu

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.

* * * * *
- Amy Parker

Live Review: Iron Maiden (5th July 2008, Twickenham Stadium)

There is an excitement in the air, it’s unavoidable, contagious and seems to be seeping through the veins of every fan standing on a curb or corner outside Twickenham Stadium. It’s there because Britain’s biggest and greatest heavy metal band has finally come home after a 2-year long absence.
As you walk into the stadium, it’s now that you realise you are part of history and tonight is going to be one of the best of your life.
Lauren Harris (daughter of Maiden guitarist and founder Steve Harris) is the first of the support acts on stage. When you’re playing to a 50,000+ crowd, this is a tough slot to fill. Lauren and band managed to put on a sturdy performance, although at times, seemed to lack the stage presence that would be discovered with a little more experience. Lauren was promoting her album, ‘Calm Before The Storm’, released in June, with powerful vocals and heavy guitars it looks set to do well.
The second band on, Within Temptation have been around for a while, forming in 1996. Because of this, they know how to work the crowd and use the size of the stage to their advantage. They play crowd-pleasing songs, ‘What Have You Done’ and ‘The Howling’, from their latest album, ‘The Heart of Everything’. All the songs were complemented by front woman’s Sharon Den Adel’s ever operatic vocals, the band played greatly, supported by the fans.
The third and final support act, the mighty Avenged Sevenfold seem to have been influenced by the crowd’s excitement as they kick into gear and use the whole stage to prove just how passionate about music they are. They entice the crowd with songs, ‘Almost Easy’ and ‘Afterlife’; this causes a mosh – fest. ‘A7X’ have come a long way in the 9 years since they formed and it’s very likely that in the future they could be headlining stadium’s like Twickenham themselves, with incredibly powerful vocals, intense drumming and heavy intertwining guitars. It’s unfortunate that the band had to cut their set – list a song short due to frontman M Shadows spotting somebody in the crowd who needed medical attention. The band received a massive reception as they exited the stage. But even as Avenged Sevenfold themselves said, tonight is about Iron Maiden.
The fans now start up chants of, ‘Maiden! Maiden!’ and the atmosphere and volume turns up. A few minutes later, the lights go down and a wave of throaty roars bounce around the stadium. Iron Maiden burst onto stage with ‘Ace’s High’, like the veterans of performance they are and all hell breaks loose! It’s now you begin to notice the amazing stage scenery with an Egyptian theme and different backdrops for each song. This adds to the already extraordinary atmosphere and Maiden continue to play favourites such as, ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ – which has every person in the stadium singing along to the some of the most legendary choruses of all time.
The eerie feel of ‘Fear of the Dark’ is mind-blowing as front man Bruce Dickinson runs around the stage with ease, more like a 20 year old rather than a 50 year old as he shows the younger bands of today exactly how its done. A stunning rendition of ‘Wasted Years’ throws both band and crowd into chaos with flawless vocals – showing that Bruce Dickinson’s astounding vocal range is still very much in tact. This combined with the great musimanship shown by Adrian Smith and co creates a union of incredible music which the fans were loving every minute of.
If there’s one thing you can take from an Iron Maiden show, it’s that it is that, a show. It’s an unorthodox performance in every way possible. Theatrical, exciting, unpredictable and most importantly, the performance shows the band still has it. Tonight’s extraordinary range of fans aged from 8 – 70 proves this theory. Dickinson says himself with chipper humour that a lot of the fans up front were nowhere near being born when Iron Maiden was. This shows the appeal the band still has after 30 years on top and judged on tonight’s performance – will have for a very, very long time to come.

* * * *

- Amy Parker

Album Review: Every Time I Die - New Junk Aesthetic

In the months leading up to the release of their fifth studio album, Every Time I Die had promised their doting fans that ‘New Junk Aesthetic’ would see the band go back to their roots, revaluating and reinventing the heavier sound that saw their first three albums become so successful. Hardcore fans that had hoped this would be true will be excited to know that the band was not over-exaggerating…at all!
Buffalo’s finest are a strange type of band, masters of the controlled chaos which is manifested clearly in this album with songs, ‘The Marvelous Slut’ and ‘For The Record’ providing a frenzy of layered guitar tracks and razor sharp vocals while ‘Wanderlust’ and ‘White Smoke’ are almost certain to become fan-favourites due to the sheer colossal choruses and hooks wrapped in an intensity unmatched by any other bands, with the voice of ETID’s, Keith Buckley screaming the clever and poetic, ‘If life is pointless, then point taken, say amen.’
‘Organ Grinder’ sees the band show off the southern grooves from previous albums while still keeping the in your face ferocity and grinding musimanship very much in tact. Leading the album greatly onto ‘Host Disorder’, which stands out as the song that contains the most actual singing (as all the other songs are pretty much full of throat-aching shouts) all the while still containing a certain amount of violent commotion and vicious drumming to keep it in tune with the rest of the album. 
‘The Sweet Life’ is a stand out track with one of the catchiest choruses on the entire album, which helps the song deliver a gargantuan hit through the speakers with a perfectly timed arrangement and a creative flow.
The brilliantly named ‘Goddamn Kids These Days’ ends the album off fiercely with a clever swagger with ‘we deserve to be moved by more than force alone’ being one of the best lines on the album, capturing the feelings of the world today.
At times, Every Time I Die tend to sound like the incoherent rant of a mad man on a mission, but they do it so flawlessly and with great control that you can’t help but stop and admire their courage to create such brutal lyrics, a heavy and yet still groove-orientated wave of hooks and a willingness to expose people and parts of the world for what they are. ‘New Junk Aesthetic’ is aggression personified and will surely see them continue on the path of success.

* * * *
- Amy Parker

Album Review: Atreyu - Congregation Of The Damned

It may be the case that, in trying to adhere to hardcore fans that have listened to Atreyu since their explosive debut and those who were disappointed with the pop – hooks and less scream orientated songs of 2007’s Lead Sails, Paper Anchor, Atreyu may have missed out.
Of course a band’s fan base is very important, the backbone of any good band is it’s vast and passionate fan base. But in trying to please all of those, the band have failed to craft the musical direction that they were beginning to master.
Congregation Of The Damned’s predecessor may have disappointed those who hung on to the dark and epic riffs, but for all of it’s misfortunes and weak moments, it also showed that the band had the ability to create music with flowing hooks and catchy choruses all the while seeming to maintain and hold on to their roots, with heavy and old-school moments presenting themselves on certain songs.
Congregation…definitely contains some of the latter merits, but it also seems at times to drudge along without leaving its mark. The album in most cases seems to follow the same format, never straying too far from the simplistic and is left without any un-predictable moments thrown in. The title track Congregation Of The Damned and Lonely are shining examples of this. With the typically commercial and lack-lustre choruses dragging the song through without any real ambition, they don’t give much to the overall album. The at times too frantic pace causes a lot of the songs to sound as if the band is trying to cram a lot of things into three and a half minutes without containing any of the epic-like choruses Atreyu is known for.
There are some good moments on the album. Stop! Before It’s Too Late And We’ve Destroyed It All leads off the album and actually contains one of the few memorable choruses in the album. It’s fast, partially heavy and a great opener with a killer guitar riff ripping into the song from the beginning.
You Were King, Now You’re Unconscious reveals an impressive intro with inventive musicianship, including an exceptionally heavy riff, with front man Alex Varkatzas and drummer Brandon Saller’s voices complimenting each other in the best way, just as they always have. Gallows also has a memorable intro along with some of tightest drumming and guitar work ever heard on an Atreyu track while So Wrong shows the passionate side of the band with a well -worked arrangement.
The lyrics on the album are as deep and cathartic as ever and the leading off single Storm To Pass shows this. It is a commercial song but holds some of the old-school Atreyu atmosphere and a fast and creative solo that fits into the song in a great way.
Ravenous gives a much heavier sound to the album with growling vocals and a very upbeat and dark feel to it. The other side of the coin is the song Wait For You. A song that hits you way out of left field and shows a more sensitive side to the Orange Country natives, with it’s slow pace that barely changes and soft vocals.
The album doesn’t work in the best way for the band. It is bound to receive mixed reactions from fans and critics alike - whether it’s for the lack of the heaviness, that the band has become known for or simply because most songs are nowhere near as good as Atreyu’s best. It may have some fans memorised, others though, will likely head for the hills clutching tightly to their copy of 2004’s The Curse.

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- Amy Parker


Album Review: Avenged Sevenfold - Waking The Fallen

From the very beginning Waking The Fallen is encased by a very mysterious air. It being the second instalment in the career of Huntington Beach rockers Avenged Sevenfold, it is important that this album leaves its mark among the metal world and ensures the band is one to watch out for. And with the most simplistic of intros – a merge of demonic screams and some seriously low-end bass guitar and drum work, it leaves the listener both intrigued and slightly creeped out. The ending few seconds hears front man M Shadows tear out the words ‘no one can touch us’. Throughout this album, that statement is proved accurate over and over again.
The intro leads onto the brilliant ‘Unholy Confessions’, with an unforgettable riff and a chorus that will have fans singing along whenever they hear the first few chords. With its fluent style and dark lyrics, it’s a definite single-worthy song.
Remenissions’ and ‘Chapter Four’ deliver some great moments. With thrashy musicianship and exciting riffs, they harbour some very eerie concepts about religion and the end of the world, with the words, ‘I don’t know the answers but neither do you’. Both are songs that are sure to get a crowd and your head moving.
‘Desecrate Through Reverence’ holds the title for having the darkest riff on the album, which bleeds into some great guitar work (delivered by lead guitarist Synyster Gates) and devil-like screaming. It is also the song you will be most guilty of head banging to, with one of the best choruses the band have ever created, ‘Darkened eyes you’ll see, there is no hope, no saviour in me,’ is one of the best lines of the album. The song blends into ‘Eternal Rest’- without doubt the heaviest song on the album. From the get-go, it’s straight in your face with a pounding and thrilling guitar solo and some of the most brutal and evil vocals you will ever hear. The song is pure genius, passionate, intense and melodic at the same time. In all honesty ‘Desecrate...’ and ‘Eternal Rest’, although both great songs in their own right, would have been even more amazing if they had formed to make a near eleven minute song, which would have worked very well for the album.
Both ‘I Won’t See You Tonight Part 1’ and ‘Second Heartbeat’ could be considered the very best song on the album. Both filled to the brim with desperation and a passion un-matched by other bands. The latter of the two being the heaviest, with an addictive riff and chorus that seeps through the song to make it so great. With some incredible drumming, that is both fast and inventive. Along with a ferocious guitar solo saved for the very end of the song to end on a high. It sweeps through with pace and style.
‘I Won’t See You Tonight Part 1’ is an entirely different song. It starts off with an incredible piano piece that ends as the music blasts off into some melodic and fervent guitar work. The usually up-beat music is replaced with a simple drum beat and soft yet devastating vocals that showcase just how powerful M Shadows’ voice is. Unless you can’t appreciate what a spectacle of a song this song is, it will have you choking up before it’s even finished. It is simply one of the most beautiful songs ever made with some of the most beautiful lyrics ever written.
The last few tracks, ‘Clairvoyant Disease’ and ‘And All Things Will End’ may not be the best tracks on the album, but they do nothing to deter away from the power and greatness of it.
On every track within Waking The Fallen, the arrangements are so near perfect that you have to wonder just how talented the band is. And how they can make songs with arrangements so great, lyrics so dark and devastating and music that is simply at times breath taking. The mix of shouting and singing is nothing new in the music world, but Avenged Sevenfold seem to have created their own brand of it and mastered it.
What separates them from other bands is their willingness to try new things. They have the perfect formula for an album and present the music so brilliantly. The amount of talent and creativity shown on each of the twelve tracks within the album proves that they are the band to look out for and also, that no one can touch them.

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- Amy Parker

Album Review: Brand New - Daisy

If there’s one thing ‘Daisy’ does perfectly, it’s that it makes you think, probably more than any other album you listen to this year will.
Starting with the first track, ‘Vices’ which, with a slightly unusual beginning and front man Jesse Lacey tearing vocals out from where they’ve never been torn before, may have long-time fans of the band scratching their heads. Whereas others will be revelling in the fact that once again Brand New prove to be one of the most original and inventive bands on the planet. Their trademark being that they never give you everything straight away, instead making the listener wait and enjoy the ride the music takes them on, all the while building up to their epic-like finishes - something that the New Yorkers do better than any other band.
‘Bed’ along with title track, ‘Daisy’ – which is one of the highlights of the album, provides a signature chilled out moment from the band which reveals the emotional and melodic side of them that fans have come to admire, while ‘At The Bottom’ sounds something like the love-child of the band’s last two albums (2003’s Deja Entendu and 2006’s The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me), with melodies seeping though all the way to the upbeat and screeching ‘Gasoline’, which showcases some of the most haunting bass lines and vocals from start to finish, giving the song an eerie feel (even though the whole album could be thought of as eerie).

‘You Stole’ shows how much the musicianship of the guys has improved over the years with some of the best guitar lines and riffs ever produced by guitar man Vincent Accardi, which fit brilliantly to help take the song to new heights along with the rest of the album.

With it’s intriguing lyrics, screaming vocals and rapid drumming, ‘Sink’ turns out to be one of the heaviest tracks, this and other songs all add up to create probably the heaviest and most brutal album the band have ever released.
Track by track, ‘Daisy’ seems to be filled with emotion. Just as every other Brand New album in the past does, it oozes passionate and diverse lyrics along with tantalising melodies as well as the ever-present willingness to try new things.
‘Brought A Bride’, is one of the best songs ever shaped by the band, poetic and full of feeling while wrapped in dazzling guitar lines that compliment the song greatly.
The final track ‘Noro’, distinguishes an intriguing atmosphere with Jesse Lacey crying out,’ I’m on my way to hell.’  This is mixed with distorted guitars and an abrupt, yet well-timed finish, which ends the album on a high.
Although Brand New don’t give you everything straight away, when they do give you something, they give you it all 100% and then some, their fourth album exposes everything that they are about and also shows how much Brand New have grown up through their music. From the questioning lyrics to the much improved on use of their instruments, they have crafted yet another stunning and inspiring album to add to their long list of achievements.
‘Daisy’ just might be the defining moment of Brand New’s career. Breaking away slightly from their earlier work, it’s a different step in the band’s evolution that might prove to be the most rewarding one they’ve ever taken.

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- Amy Parker

Album Review: Every Time I Die - The Big Dirty

If you are going to call your album ‘The Big Dirty’, then there has to be a certain amount of grime, swagger and guts in the music to be able to back it up. All of this is something that Buffalo, New York’s quartet has in barrels full.
After three great albums that received much critical acclaim and touring around the world to an ever-growing fan base, to say that this album has been anticipated would be an understatement. The fourth instalment from Every Time I Die is one full of excitement from beginning to end and whether you’re a new fan of the band or a long-time fan, you won’t be disappointed.
Starting off quickly and at 100 miles per hour with ‘No Son Of Mine’, front man Keith Buckley’s strengthened vocals are straight in your face along with ferocious drumming from stickman Mike Novak and guitar riffs heavy enough to blow out your speakers and the song leaves no guesses to how brutal every other track will be.
Songs ‘We’rewolf’ and ‘Rendez-Voodoo’ give the album a fresh and innovative edge as the music flows perfectly and the southern-influenced melodies cause a surge of energy to blast you away as well as somehow being songs that you could easily dance to (or mosh to – either way, they’re great songs). ‘INRIhab’ follows this path as well but that doesn’t make it any less original or exhilarating. With the help of Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green, the song propels to a new level and can be considered one of the main bright spots of the album with screeching lyrics, ‘Give me the strength to be widowed now that the honeymoon's over. Grant me the privileges saved for the sailors. Condemned with you all. Goddamn you all.’
The heaviness reaches new heights with ‘Pigs Is Pigs’ and ‘A Gentleman’s Sport’, as they deliver brutal and angry touches to an already heated album, layered with distorted guitars and upbeat tempos that lead the album through in an appropriate way to ‘Depressionista’, which is another highlight with an immense in your-face-chorus,’ 'Til death do we rock? We're so full of s**t. 'Til death do we rock! You keep buying it’, that shoves a witty shot in the direction of bands that ‘sell out’ and lack the credibility they once had, as well as the fans that buy into it all.
‘Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Battery’ is a great finisher to the album. With a chorus as catchy as any and a straight to the point drollness that Every Time I Die have become known for.
In 36 minutes everything the band has ever wanted to say, seems to have been said with a tongue-in-cheek view of the world and all it’s problems and adventures. They show a vast sense of humour while still bringing intensity to their music that is rarely seen presented in such a way these days.
A clear thing is that the album seems like one big party filled with dirt, flamboyance and sarcasm along with perfectly arranged musimanship and harmonic melodies.
The incredible hooks and tempo changes on this album are countless, and that what makes it an album so unique and special. It has creativity, cleverness and enough catchy choruses to last you a lifetime.
‘The Big Dirty’ walks a road in between the band’s last two albums (2003’s Hot Damn! And 2005’s Gutter Phenomenon) but ultimately delivers the gritty southern influenced rock and hardcore that has made Every Time I Die so renowned and fascinating.

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- Amy Parker

Album Review: Bullet For My Valentine - The Poison

It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago Bullet for my Valentine front man Matt Tuck was working in a Virgin Megastore in Wales, imagining the days when his own CD would be purchased across the counter with anticipation from adoring fans.
Fast-forward a few years and the dream has begun to come true. After turning down a record deal from Roadrunner Records and instead opting to sign a five-album deal with Song BMG, the band reveal their debut full-length album.
The Poison is a perfect example of why everybody is raving about them and why they are the finest British export in years. 
Now this being Bullet’s debut full – length album means that they needed to make a lasting impression, they have done just that. The Poison is filled with pulse-pounding songs to make you feel all kinds of things. Songs that have been purposely written and played to make you feel you are a mixed bag of emotions.
The album kicks off with the out-standing ‘Intro’, as all the instruments fade in, to form an almighty union of beautiful string music performed with the rock legends themselves – Apocalyptica, the strings are then blanketed under the sound of a sharp guitar, hitting high notes that could pierce your ears if listened to loud enough.
After this, you would be forgiven if you had prepared yourself for a softer side of metal, but sadly mistaken. As soon as ‘Intro’ ends we are greeted with the screams and shouts from the bottom of frontman Matt Tuck’s lungs as the band join together to form a blistering mosh – fest of music, this song is ‘Her Voice Resides’ – promoting a very angry, yet passionate side to the band with the most intense of intense songs. With a heavy riff and heated lyrics, this song will likely give you the inspiration to pick up a guitar and get in touch with your creative (and dangerous) side.
If by now you somehow haven’t had enough of head-banging, you will be greatly pleased as you are forced to dive head first into an extraordinary guitar riff as the song ‘4 Words (to Choke Upon)’ begins and creates surges of adrenaline through your body, guaranteed to become a metal anthem and already a fan favorite, this song puts a big middle finger up to all the non-believers with the infectious lyric of ‘Look at me now!’
Other songs such as ‘Cries In Vain’ (also featured on the band’s mini album ‘Hand of Blood) stand out with there dark, secret – revealing lyrics and catchy hooks, that make you want to mosh until your head hurts.
We also see a more emotional and personal side to the Welsh quartet, as we dig deep into Tuck’s heart, for the revealing song ’10 years today’. This is a song about Tuck’s despair over the tragic loss of his friend to suicide at just 15.
Ending an album well is important. The song ‘The End’ is a creative song, with more highs and lows than a roller coaster. A song with a love-hate feel to it, to the end of a relationship gone wrong but a song that at moments you feel you can 100% rock to.
Bullet show no signs of  letting up on this album. This music has been made to send you dizzy with freshly inventive, and sensationally dazzling metal stomps on the face of most other bands out there.  
It is obvious this album isn’t a metal masterpiece, but it’s a damn good start. If this album verifies anything, it’s that Bullet for my Valentine are band to be taken seriously, a band to watch out for and most importantly, a band you don’t want to ever underestimate.
Look out metalheads! The future is here!

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- Amy Parker

Album Review: Brand New - The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me

A great thing when listening to music is to feel like you have a very deep and powerful connection with the artist. When you feel like you completely understand and can undeniably relate to the lyrics. When you are powerless against the hold the words and the music have over you. I can think of no band that I feel this with more than Brand New.
With a title such as ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’, it’s certain from the get-go that this album is about struggles and demons. About pain, a subject that Brand New have always specialised in. But as always with Brand New – it’s not that straight forward.
The album starts out with the song ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’. Starting out with a bang, it is clear that the band are not letting up. Lyrics such as, ‘I was losing all my friends, was losing them to drinking and to driving. Was losing all my friends, but I got 'em back’, reveal just how truthful this album will be, much like anything Brand New do. The song is very expressive, Jesse Lacey writes, ‘I am on the mend, at least now I can say that I am trying, and I hope you will forget, the things I still lack. This shows Lacey’s fear that he will never be good enough. After this, you expect the song to continue with the sombre mood, but with the unpredictability that Brand New have become know for, the song soon shifts a gear into the chorus. Stretching out Jesse Lacey’s vocal chords and showing off Vinnie Accardi’s clever guitar skills and different textures, the song continues to be melodic and honest until the end. ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’ proves to be a near-perfect opening track, setting the bar high.
Next you have ‘Millstone’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ – both equally superior and relaxing. ‘Millstone’ is a song that pretty much stays at the same tempo, but is a very potent song in the album. ‘Jesus Christ’ is very provocative. A song that slowly builds up; all the while being controlled perfectly with masterful musimanship.
‘Degausser’ is an excellent example of the band’s creativity. Lyrics, ‘Goodbye to sleep, I think this staying up is exactly what I need. Well take apart your head, take apart the counting, and the flock it has bred’, are some of the best on the album. The dark tone of the song creates an atmosphere not heard in any other band’s music. Multiple guitar tracks and coherent drumming back up a radically great vocal performance.
The next track, ‘Limousine’ is a song I could write a whole review solely based on. A song that was produced about the tragic death of seven-year-old Katie Lynn. A girl who was killed in a car accident when a drunken driver decided to drive on the wrong side of the road.
‘I saw our sad Messiah. He was bored and tired of my laments. He said, "I died for you one time, but never again’’. Perfectly shows why this track and the lyrics are so epic.
This song is not only the pinnacle of the album and of Jesse Lacey’s song writing, but also quite possibly the pinnacle of Brand New’s entire career. You can’t help but be held captive by this song. The lyrics are so passionate and heart braking that it’s hard to believe that anybody could create words so beautiful yet so devastating. With music that starts out very eerie and slow but proceeds to throw you into a controlled frenzy full of passion and thought-provoking lyrics and melodies. The distortion in parts of this track adds to the songs mysterious nature.

I'll never have to buy adjacent plots of earth
We'll never have to rot together underneath dirt,
I'll never have to lose my baby in the crowd
I should be laughing right now’

These words are repeated under the line’ Well I love you so much, but do me a favour baby and don’t reply. Cause I can dish it out, but I can't take it.’ Both of these sets of lyrics then epically lead you into an excessive guitar solo. If you only listen to one track on this album, make it Limousine. You will be deeply touched.
‘You Won’t Know’ is a very up-tempo song. With a dark guitar riff that makes the song all the more powerful. Jesse Lacey sounds like he is literally tearing out his vocal chords all the way through the song with on of the best vocal performances on the entire album. The musimanship on this song is at its best, delivered with flair and inventiveness. The song ends with the haunting words, ‘…and I can’t use the telephone to tell you that I’m dead and gone, so you won’t know…’
‘Not The Sun’ is a very diverse track for Brand New but equally great. The song is placed in just the right place on the album, keeping the excitement and producing some great up-tempo drumming. The song is in your face the whole way through and finished before you can realise what just happened.
After this, we are given a soothing song. ‘Luca’ is such a great and peaceful song that there are tow versions of it on the album the first slightly longer. The second version is the last track on the album and name ‘Luca (Reprisal Version). Both are memorable, with Jesse Lacey almost whispering the words. While the first version eventually boils over to create an amazing ending and one that will shock and startle the listener, the second, simply stays at the same pace and ends as it begins, tranquil and calm. Both show the band’s capability to create a tense build-up and release to a song. Honestly, does any band do it any better? I have yet to find one.
‘The Archer’s Bows Have Broken,’ is another example of an exciting and fast paced song. With a catchy chorus, it is the perfect lead on to the next track.
The song, ‘Handcuffs’ comes seemingly way out of left field. This song is very different. The band builds this song up but without resorting to aggression and/or distortion. The song is simply built up with remarkable vocal melodies and music.
The entire album itself is an emotional roller coaster. It takes you on a trip of ups and downs, through exciting energy and intense darkness. The mystery of Brand New will never be compromised. They are masters at what they do.
Jesse Lacey’s talent for writing lyrics has yet to be matched. He goes for the abstract rather than the obvious. He can tell you stories, can make you feel happy, can make you feel sad. Purely, his lyrics can simply make you feel.
But Brand New aren’t just about the lyrics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no band has a better capability of building songs up and then either releasing them or bringing them back. The band’s vocal melodies are some of the best out there and the their unpredictable musimanship makes them stand out. They are different, passionate, creative and refreshing to listen to. Not driven by ego or money, they make music for the love of it. All of this makes them special in entirely their own way.
If you don’t understand Brand New and what they are all about by now, then you probably never will. Either way, it’s your loss.

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- Amy Parker