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Its Been A While, Winter Reviews

December 18, 2009

It’s been a while since i’ve done some reviews and there has been some great records out lately that needs the attention. So I figured since the weather has been getting shittier I would stay in and write up some reviews. Check back for more because I’m sure i missed a few that I forgot came out in the past month or two. Also this week I’m going to be adding some new features to the blog such as a monthly band spotlight as well as a record of the month, so check back soon!

Blacklisted – No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me
November 30, 2009 | Deathwish Inc. [4.5/5]

There is a lot of controversy with this record but ill leave all of that out and keep this a strict review of the musical content. It seems over the past few years there has been a definant Only Living Witness influence, and that is still relevant with this record on songs like “Skeletons” and “Pallisade”. However there is more of a noise rock/grundge influence on a lot of the other songs such as the opening track “Our Apartment Is Always Empty”. This track can probably sums up what they were going for with this record and in my opinion it is the strongest song alongside “Im Trying To Disappear”.

You can tell that they put a lot of effort into the music and the production, and it shows. My only complaint is that I wish George (vocalist) put a little more time into his vocal style as much as he did his lyrics. At times they’re really suitable but at other times it seems to forced and unnatural. He has however written some of the most emotional lyrics I think a hardcore band has ever done, and I think that is one of the reasons why so many people freak out every time a new Blacklisted record comes out.

As well as the change in the musical content, Blacklisted made some other changed as well. Most of the releeases on Deathwish are recorded by Kurt Ballou (Godcity Studios) and that is sort of the “Deathwish” sound. However this release sounds much different than previous Blacklisted records because it was recorded in Philadelphia by Will Yip at Studio 4. If im not mistaken most of the productions that he has done have been more mainstream so I was surprised when I found out they were recording with him, but it came out sounding great and there is a noticable difference between this record and “Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God”.

Another thing I like about this release is the artwork. It’s a bit unusual and looks more like a Dinosaur Jr cover but it fits with the music. Its not just the art however that I like, most bands on Deathwish have their art done by J.Bannon and as well recognized and talented as he is its good to see a release that doesnt look the same. It seems like the past 10 or so records to come out on Deathwish have been done by him so its good to have a breath of fresh air from time to time.

All in all this record I think is very important for Blacklisted and their fans. It shows a lot of growth and development and i’ve loved watching this band turn into the creative force that they are today. Their song structure is more unique than any other hardcore band out today and their lyrical content is just as emotional as any indie rock band from the 90’s. I think they have a great formula for what they want to do, however I don’t think they have quite yet perfected it yet. Needless to say Blacklisted has been one of the few bands i’ve enjoyed watching over the past few years and seeing how far they’ve grown as a band and as musicians, this is by far one of the most unique and interesting records of 2009. (http://www.deathwishinc.com/)

Rise and Fall – Our Circle is Vicious
October 27, 2009 | Deathwish Inc. [4/5]

Belgium’s finest hardcore/metal act is back with their second full length to date and its taken them quite some time to get to this point. The wait was well worth it because this record smokes from start to finish. Heavy and evil are the two formulas that describe this record, plus it has an overall negative feel too it and I like that.

These songs are a bit more on the melodic side and tend to be slower than their previous record “Into Oblivion”. You can tell that they spent a lot of time writing and in the studio because everything is neat and fits together. This is one of my favorite productions that Kurt at Godcity studios has done for deathwish. Unlike their previous effort, this record seems to me like it was mixed not to sound like the loudest record of the year, which is a good thing. Its mixed to a level where everything can be understood, which is good because there is a lot going on musically.

“Harms Way”, “Built on Graves”, “A Present Tense”, “To The Bottom” and “In Circles” are my personal favorites off of this record, but that doesnt mean the rest are just as good. This new LP shows a lot of growth and maturity with the band and it reminds me a lot of later Cursed, very evil and the guitar tone is very distinct and similar to that Rotten Sound or Entombed.

This record is by far Rise & Falls best work to date. They have matured as a band musically and this record is proof of their hard work. They have already toured the US on this record but im sure they wiill be back in 2010, this is definately a band to watch for in the future. (http://www.deathwishinc.com/)

Like Wolves – Paths
October 2009  | Self Released [4/5]

Rochester, NY’s chaotic and aggressive hardcore/punk act Like Wolves is back with a new 7″ and in my opinion this is their best work yet. Before hearing this I wasn’t to sure about these guys, I liked what they were going for and live they were really awesome but I didnt quite get into on record, but after “Paths” I was blown away.

This four song 7″ is raw and intense from start to finish, but a little more comprehendible. There are a lot of hardcore punk bands that just sort of go off on a tangent and aren’t even playing music, this record has a sense of musicianship and is more organized than most punk bands. The guitars are also doing a lot of weird stuff that I dont hear most bands doing right now and I like that. This band has definately crafted their own sound that is for sure.

Nothing beats seeing this band live, I would go check them out in the rochester area or when they are on tour. I know what your thinking, they will probably be really loud and you wont understand whats going on, well your right about one thing. They are a very loud band but they play their instruments well and as for being a chaotic band live, just watching the singer.

Great record from a great local upstate new york band. Im hoping to see these guys do some more records and the fact they are doing it on their own is a pretty cool thing. It seems like everyone you meet now in hardcore runs a label or has put out a record, so its cool to see a band take the initiative. The artwork is also a thing that I forget to mention, it came out really cool, and the inside is neat and simple, pick it up if you havnt already and check it out for yourselves. (http://www.myspace.com/likewolves666)

Bankrobber – Vultures 7″
Hydrogen Man Records | November 2009 [2/5]

Im not to familiar with this band as this record was mailed into me on request however this is the bands first 7″ I believe. Hailing from Denver Colorado, the band brings us six fast paced and rhythmic songs. This record reminds me a lot of early Integrity mixed with “Birth is Pain” era Ringworm and early Blacklisted. Nothing too out of the box here but the songs are still catchy and groovy. I was definatly getting into it when I first put it on the record player for a spin. This is the first release for Hydrogen Man Records and a decent one at that, however the artwork and layout doesn’t really do it for me, but thats just my personal taste. All in all this is a pretty solid first EP from a fairly new band, nothing to innovative and new but sometimes it  doesn’t have to be that way. This is straight forward angry and pissed off hardcore, Im curious to see what this band does in the future. (http://www.hydrogenmanrecords.com/)

Baroness – Blue Record
Relapse Records | October 13, 2009 [4.5/5]

Savannah’s own Baroness is back with their most criticaly acclaimed album to date ,”Blue Record” is the bands second full length, following the well respected “Red Album”. Is this considered a continuation from their previous record? I’d say so but there are some different characteristics that they did on this record that adds to their already unique sound. Blending prog rock leads with their own unique “indie metal” sound as they call it, there is no doubt that this record is up for debate as their best record yet.

There is so much going on in every song that I wouldnt even know where to begin. I’ve been listening to this record on and off for weeks now and I still find new things that I didnt even notice before. This is a record with many layers to it and you almost need to sit back and not do anything else but listen when you hit play. The production of this record is not as dirty as the “Red Album” however. This mix is a lot more pristine and clear, and you can tell a lot more work was put into this production. But like most bands, as they get a larger fan base their production and musicality becomes bigger as well.

Like most reviews I usually talk about the music more in detail, but to be honest im feeling a tad bit lazy. However if you are reading this to see what songs I like the most I can name a few. “A Horse Called Golgotha”, “Jake Leg”, “Swollen and Halo”, and “The Sweetest Curse” are all great songs off of this LP but I suggest that you listen to this from beginning to end and soak it in entirely; after all that is what you should be doing.

All in all there is a lot going on with this record and I like that. Baroness adds so many elements into their music its hard to just categorize them under one genre, so i guess the term “indie metal” sort of fits for them because it can be taken in so many ways and on so many levels. If you were really into the “Red Album” this will surely not dissapoint you and if it does than your just saying that because you’re mad at how well these guys can play their instruments. (http://www.relapse.com/)

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