REPEATED EXPOSURE TO…
It’s no secret that Stoner Metal (or Doom Metal or whatever you’d like to label it) has been making a strong resurgence over the last few years. While much of it has been softened somewhat to play to a wider audience (see bands like Scorpion Child, Vista Chino or Blues Pills), there are still plenty of acts out there that keep it heavy with huge riffs. For every band I seem to already know of, there seems to be a dozen that come from out of nowhere and shock me. 1000mods is one such band. Not knowing anything at all about them going into it, I almost didn’t download this from the publicist’s link. I’m glad I didn’t make that mistake. REPEATED EXPOSURE TO… is one of the strongest releases of the entire year. Falling somewhere between Trouble and Cathedral sonically, REPEATED EXPOSURE TO… just crushes your head with it’s intense riffs, strong production and overall incredible songs. Songs like “Loose” set the tone for this band with their wall of raw sonic power.
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Flotsam & Jetsam
FLOTSAM & JETSAM
It’s certainly cool to see a band that has been on the downside of their career rebound strongly. While I haven’t hated anything they’ve done, they have not been the most compelling band the last few years. THE COLD and UGLY NOISE were definitely lower tier as their career has gone. That said, they have rebounded in a big, big way with FLOTSAM & JETSAM. Without question, this is the best release the band has done this century. Being honest, I would have to go back to material like CUATRO or DRIFT to find material I’ve liked as much. The first single, “Life Is A Mess” brings that sense of urgent metal to the forefront; that same vibe you found early on in this band’s career. Other songs, like the blazing “Iron Maiden”, pay homage to the iconic band of the same name with it’s guitar sound while sounding as powerful as anything this band has done in ages.
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THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON
You either love Meshuggah or you don’t. The innovators of djent, or math metal, or headache metal...or whatever you want to call it, there’s a consistency you can always expect with them. For their genre, they are much like Tool in that they remain aloof and distant from any of the attention whoring that having a loyal fanbase generally brings. They make their music, do their tours, and then disappear completely for awhile before repeating. They have re-emerged somewhat suddenly with their latest, THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON. While this will do nothing to lure in anyone new, it will equally not disappoint any of the already converted. This is straightforward Meshuggah...period. It’s definitely not as good as OBZEN, and at the same time there’s really nothing bad to say about it either. Tracks like “Born In Dissonance”, “Clockworks” or anything else on the disc could be mixed into any release of theirs without sounding any more jarring than the rest of the material.
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THE LAST HERO
There are some bands that just do no wrong. For me, Alter Bridge is one of those bands. Every release has been better than the last one. Hell, even the side projects (Slash for Myles Kennedy and Tremonti for Mark Tremonti) have been exceptional every time out. Without any surprise at all, THE LAST HERO is great. It takes another step forward for this band. While they never seem to break out as a huge band in today’s market, they are one of the very best. In many ways, they remind me of a band like Sevendust; a band that consistently was great but just never found that massive success for some reason. No matter. They keep up the excellence with THE LAST HERO. As a vocalist, Myles Kennedy is light years above just about everyone singing today. His sound is unique to himself, and yet pretty accessible to everyone. He and guitarist Tremonti are the stars on THE LAST HERO. Well, actually the songs are the stars. You can’t help but find yourself rocking out to songs like “Show Me A Leader” or “Losing Patience”.
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It’s always interesting to see that Glenn Hughes has a new “project”. It’s interesting because Hughes, for the most part, has a pretty core sound that works it’s way through most of his projects. The differences between Black Country Communion, California Breed and the latest solo release RESONATE are more nuances than actual differences. RESONATE is an extremely solid release, which you can bet Hughes is very proud of. Not resting on his Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction, Hughes returns with a fiery and diverse record that challenges his previous benchmarks and touches into some new ground along the way. Songs like “Heavy” showcase the power of this brilliant voice, while other songs like “Steady” could lead you to believe Hughes is looking to form Deep Purple MK 39. This is a near perfect release for Hughes; his best work since RETURN OF CRYSTAL KARMA.
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BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE
It’s really never a bad time for a new Testament release, is it? Testament returns with a brutal, powerful and what you would have to call an “as expected” release. BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE brings all the heavy you would ever want from Testament. It’s not a reinvention of the wheel by any standard, but if you liked Testament before, there’s really nothing in the way here to make you change your mind now. Vocalist Chuck Billy sounds mean as fuck throughout, while guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick have created punishing riffs that seems to really penetrate your soul from their ferocity. Mix in a bottom end created by bass legend Steve DiGiorgio and “The Atomic Clock” Gene Hoglan, and you’ve got a formula for heavy metal brutality that is seldom bested.
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Jackyl mastermind Jesse James Dupree is sort of the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of Larry The Cable Guy. He plays his redneck schtick to the hilt, so it’s impossible to tell where the act ends and the man begins. One thing is clear though: neither of these gents would still be around if they were really the dumb hillbillies they play on stage. They know their audience, and that audience reciprocates that loyalty. At the same time however, there’s now a palpable sense of having heard it all before, with “Rock me, roll me, Jackyl me off” sounding as tired and obligatory a slogan as “Git ‘er done!” these days.
So here we have Jackyl’s seventh proper studio album, Rowyco. That’s an acronym for “rock out with your cock out,” in case you wondered. Jesse has long bragged about his band’s remarkable consistency, and in a way he’s right: Jackyl never stray too far from their patented whiskey-guzzling, titty-pinching, AC/DC-meets-Skynyrd sound. Sometimes it leans more toward the sound of a souped-up Camaro, and sometimes it sounds more like a lumbering, smoke-belching truck, but Jackyl’s music has always been instantly recognizable. Jesse’s voice has remained amazingly intact, on record at least, particularly for a singing style that would seem to be hard on the vocal cords (especially for a guy it’s difficult to picture sipping on herbal tea and not talking for any length of time). The rest of the band, comprised of Jeff and Chris Worley on guitar and drums along with one-time Brother Cane bassist Roman Glick, are as rock-solid as always. But the quality of the band’s songs has been up and down through the years, with their self-titled 1992 debut plus 2010’s aplty-named When Moonshine And Dynamite Collide being loaded with some of the band’s best songs, while other discs (Cut The Crap, for example, or 2012’s Best In Show) boasted a handful of good songs and lots of lackluster filler. So where does Rowyco fit into the hierarchy? Somewhere in the middle, I’d have to say.
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It’s 2016, so it’s fashionable to shit on Geoff Tate. It’s also the thing to do to say that his new project, Operation: Mindcrime, is terrible, compare it to what his previous band Queensryche is doing, and hate it because it’s not the same. Not at all fair, really...but I get it. That said, if you can move passed comparing to another band, accept that Tate is trying something different, and judge the music contained for what it is, you might just find some music that you will enjoy. RESURRECTION is the middle piece of Tate’s three party trilogy about the global takeover of the world through digital banking and the corrupt practices of controlling the financial world from behind a keyboard instead of through any sort of physical means. The story of “K” is pretty interesting, and would read well in a graphic novel. That said, Tate’s introduction to the story (called THE KEY) was not that good a release. It was far too experimental, and unlike his great opus OPERATION: MINDCRIME, it lacked anything catchy to compel the listener to dig deeply into the story. With RESURRECTION, that has been corrected somewhat. While a lot of the material is still slow, it sets a much more compelling path vs. THE KEY. Songs like “Left For Dead” are strong enough as stand alone material, which gives a listener the space to dig into the lyrics a bit more and discover what is going on in Tate’s Illuminati-like global takeover.
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