Motorhead Motorizer, SPV Records
“Rock out with your cock out. Impress your lady friends.” F#cking Lemmy, man. Coming from anybody else, those words would sound lame, but from Lemmy, it’s pure genius. The dude’s been on a creative roll for years, but especially on the last three albums. There simply isn’t a wasted second on this disc. “One Short Life,” “English Rose” and “Teach You How To Sing The Blues” are quintessential displays of Lemmy logic. Yeah, sure, Motorhead has released some absolutely legendary albums, and while those albums (you know which ones) will forever stand the test of time, the simple fact of the matter is that Inferno, Kiss Of Death, and now Motorizer are better than those albums. Hell, that triumvirate might constitute the best albums Motorhead has ever done. So put aside your stupid, close-minded bias and open your friggin’ minds already. Motorhead still rules.
. (Dale Lammers)
The Acacia Strain Continent, Prosthetic Records
The Acacia Strain has perfected their use of tritones on this record. Vincent (singer) states the lyrics are about “nihilism and destroying everything you think you love.” The artwork is equal to the ominous lyrics. This go-around-the-death-core-band produces one massacre after another. The sound waves can be pulverizing, but then are stitched back together within the span of one song. Though Continent is a compilation of their angriest tunes yet, a soft relief and polar opposite emerges during the last track it’s just instrumental, everything but annihilating and, oddly enough, titled “Behemoth.” (Misty Johnson)
Norma Jean vs. The Anti Mother, Solid State
First things first, this is going to be a polarizing album for Norma Jean fans. The band continues to evolve with each new release, and this one is no different. They take a decidedly melodic approach compared to earlier stuff, with Cory Brandan singing more. Although Brandan does better when he is screaming his guts out, he’s really coming into his own with tighter melodies than previous efforts. With the addition of new drummer Chris Raines, the band as a whole sounds more focused than ever and is still identifiably Norma Jean. Chino Moreno of Deftones fame lends vocals and songwriting to “Surrender Your Sons” as well as Page Hamilton (Helmet) on “Opposite of Left and Wrong,” which are two of the more noteworthy tracks. This record may alienate their more hard-edged fans, as it is not Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child part deux, but it does prove Norma Jean are the innovators they set out to be.
Metal Church This Present Wasteland, SPV Records
Never thought it’d happen, but This Present Wasteland is the best Metal Church album since the heart-exploding majesty of ‘91’s The Human Factor. While that album will never be topped by anybody, this f#cker deserves huge respect. This being singer Ronny Munroe’s third album with the band, he has grown into his role and is now beginning to sound wonderfully a little more like Graham Bonnet and Bruce Dickinson. The riffs in “Meet Your Maker” and “Monster” are stinging and vindictive, but the violent, stomping, bluesy slam of “Crawling To Extinction” is about as addictive as a groove can be. Every single person I’ve played this song for has walked away bobbing their head and singing the chorus. What a f#cking monster of a song. I need a breather. Congratulations are in order, ‘cause Kurdt Vanderhoof and Co. have unleashed a beauty.
Dreadful Hours Condemned EP, Self-Released
Few local bands achieve the sheer epicness that Dreadful Hours does on their debut EP. Even though it’s only three tracks long, it listens like a double LP. Landing somewhere between Isis and My Dying Bride (from which they took their name), Condemned is a roller coaster of grandiose, black metal-tinged doom and Nathan and Dan’s deftly plucked, intertwined clean guitars. As a unit, the band moves through transitions with the greatest of ease, while Nathan peppers vocals here and there to make their rich atmospheric concoction. You can get a free copy when Dreadful Hours plays O’Riley’s this month. (D.J. Ivie)
Head (former Korn guitarist) Save Me From Myself, Driven Music Group
With his debut album, Save Me From Myself, Brian “Head” Welch has proven he was the one behind Korn’s distinct sound. A bit of keys give way to an industrial feel. Much of his vocals are over-processed and distorted like latter Johnathan Davis without the whininess. Tracks like “Die Religion Die” and “Adonai” (meaning God in Hebrew) fuel the fire, but others are just smoldering embers not quite igniting. With every song over four minutes, your interest is lost half way through. Surprisingly most of his lyrics aren’t from behind the pulpit but actually talk about making things right, being positive and the struggles of his life.
Scars on Broadway Scars on Broadway, Interscope
If you are really, really a fan of System of A Down’s Mezmerize and Hypnotize, then there’s a slight chance you’ll like Scars on Broadway. It is Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan’s post SOAD project, and it sounds like they took a bunch of riffs that Serj Tankian did not like and kept whatever stuck to the wall. Lyrically this album is as weak as they come and lacks the wit of SOAD. “Because you’re too serious/ Your [sic] gonna make me delirious,” and this gem “I am the one that’s calling inside your brain/ I am the one that makes you feel all the pain.” Yeah, made me feel pain in my brain but that would be lame; all the songs sound the same, what a shame. K (D.J. Ivie)
The Class War A Crack In the Mask, Self-Released
With syrupy sweet guitar licks and vocals so sticky they make your teeth hurt, A Crack In the Mask should be what puts The Class War on the map. This Lafayette-based band pushes a sound that is a less moody Strokes and a happier Foo Fighters to create arrangements sophisticated enough to keep the left-of-center crowd interested and short enough to keep radio happy. “Don’t Forget I’m American” could be an OK Go b-side, that will have you humming the main riff when you least suspect it. Love/Hate relationship anthem “Put Your Lips On Me” serves as another highlight with witty lyrics and a punked-up, Muse-approved giddy up. As this impressive but short EP demonstrates, The Class War is clearly a band ready to take it to the next level. KKKKK (D.J. Ivie)
Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid, Geffen
Based on vocals, it would be easy to make a comparison to Coldplay, but Guy Garvey and company are much more than that. The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow’s fourth studio album, is rich with strings, keys and horns that leisurely move around Garvey’s expertly crafted lyrics and sometimes falsetto accents. “Bones of You” utilizes flamenco rhythms, while the cha-cha of “The Fix” would fit nicely in a Quentin Tarantino film. Standout track “Grounds For Divorce” sounds like Gnarls Barkley jamming with Jimmy Page. The band mixes equal parts Pink Floyd and Arcade Fire on closer, “Friend of Ours,” which tops off a cocktail that is as potent as it is sweet.
Embrace the End Ley Lines, Century Media Records
Clearly influenced by math-core bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan as well as metal-core Poison the Well, Embrace the End lacks what these others bands have groundbreaking songs. They are “different” in a way so many before them have already been. If it were twenty years ago, they would be playing hair-metal. Ten years ago, it would be rap-metal. Vocally, Ley Lines is two dimensional screaming and Cookie Monster screaming. Big surprise, huh? Although tracks blur together, the album is not without its merits. There are some nice heavy grooves and interesting changes (minus all the pinch harmonics). The only real winner is the Neurosis-meets-Deftones “Pity and the Road to Bimini.” In a sea of Verb the Noun bands, Embrace the End is just another fish.
Sound and Fury Sound and Fury, Rebel Youth
This CD’s sound has a place in time: 1987. It has some punk-angst guitar work, mixed in with some uber-cheesy 8o’s riffs. The vocals of Luke Metcalf are, at times, too much. And his vocal are at other times not enough. He is mostly screaming or talkingand sometimes both. Whatever the case, it isn’t working on any reputable level. When you consider that the lyrical content reads like a “what not to write about” handbook, it’s difficult to take this band seriously. These songs are chalked full of clichés. Guess that’s good, if you enjoy trite attempts of communication. If you’re a fan of bands such as Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns, you might like Sound and Fury.