BURY TOMORROW – ‘Earthbound'(4/5)

(Nuclear Blast)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Bury Tomorrow cover

Pure metalheads have always been apprehensive about Bury Tomorrow, deeming them to be too melodic.

It seems the Southampton metalcore group have taken this on board, if ‘Earthbound’, their fourth studio album, is anything to go by.

With ten tracks and a total running time of 36 minutes, a full thirteen less than their last offering, 2014’s ‘Runes’, it is the band’s shortest album to date.

Probably in order to accommodate this, everything is much heavier and faster-paced.

From the opening of the first track ‘The Eternal’, through to the conclusion of closer ‘Bloodline’, it is a non-stop express journey of thrashy riffs, pounding drum beats and screeching vocals.

On the subject of vocals, one of the most noticeable changes to the band’s sound is the development of Jason Cameron’s clean vocals, which are louder and grittier.

However, his vocal delivery retains its harmony, enabling it to still provide an alternative to the screaming of Dani Winter-Bates’ unclean vocals.
Overall, ‘Earthbound’ shows a band that has evidently matured and grown in confidence since ‘Runes’, which saw them began to be noticed outside their hardcore support.

This year sees Bury Tomorrow’s tenth anniversary, and it seems that all the hard graft, determination and experimentation over the last decade has resulted in this, their best album yet.

It may even finally gain them approval from the more extreme fringes of the metal community who have dismissed them in the past.

TOP TRACK: ‘Last Light’

BASEMENT – ‘Promise Everything’ (3/5)

(Run for Cover)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Basement Cover

Promise Everything’ marks the return of Ipswich alternative rock outfit Basement after a two-year break.

Their last album, 2012’s ‘Colourmeinkindness’ saw the band begin to move away from the grunge and emo that dominated their debut ‘I Wish I Could Stay Here’.

In this, they evolve even further, at least musically.

The angst-ridden lyrics, dealing with failed relationships and mental insecurities, remain at the core of Basement’s work.

However, tracks such as ‘Oversized’ and ‘Halo’ see them ditch their usual intense compositions in favour of a gentler and more melodic sound.

This allows frontman Andrew Fisher’s vocals, which seem to be sung straight from the heart, to take centre stage.

Any fans of the band who feel uneasy about this change in musical direction do not need to worry, as ‘Brother’s Keeper’ and the title track hark back to their roots, with heavy, fast-paced riffs dominating.

‘Aquasun’, which has to be the album’s highlight, is an accessible track, with a sound that blends the band’s old and new styles, as well as sing-along lyrics and an anthemic chorus, it is bound to become one of Basement’s signature tracks.

Overall, ‘Promise Everything’ has something for everyone.
The band experiment with some tracks, whereas others are rooted in their original sound.

It is clear that they are trying to appeal to a wider audience, however at the same time, they do enough to make sure they don’t alienate the fanbase they already have.

TOP TRACK: ‘Aquasun’

ROAM – ‘Backbone’ (3/5)

(Hopeless)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Roam Cover

‘Backbone’ is the debut album from Eastbourne pop-punkers ROAM.

It has been eagerly anticipated by the band’s growing fanbase, following the critical and commercial success of their EPs.

In a recent interview, the band said that they were using this album as an opportunity for evolution, by experimenting with ideas and developing their sound and song-writing.

Some of the tracks show them doing exactly this, for example, ‘Deadweight’, a collaboration with Set Your Goals frontman Matt Wilson, is their heaviest song to date, with an opening riff that wouldn’t look out of place on a thrash metal record.

Also, ‘Tracks’ sees them try their hand at being emotional, with self-critical lyrics and a slow, acoustic sound, it’s rather like listening to a much more talented version of One Direction.

However, the rest of the album sees the band playing it safe by reverting to a more stereotypical brand of pop-punk, with the tracks short and fast-paced and not sounding that much different to their peers on the scene.

This can be excused though, as the majority of groups tend to be cautious with their full-length debuts, withholding the more edgy material for the second or third album.

Overall, ‘Backbone’ is a solid introduction to a band which, with the talent they possess, will no doubt go on to join others such as Neck Deep and Moose Blood in placing themselves at the forefront of the new wave of British pop-punk.

TOP TRACK: ‘Deadweight’

MEGADETH – ‘Dystopia’ (4/5)

(Tradecraft/Universal)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Megadeth Cover

‘Dystopia’, the fifteenth studio album from thrash metal legends Megadeth, comes at a critical time for them.

Their last offering, 2013’s ‘Super Collider’, with its more commercially-led sound, resulted in a mixed reaction from both critics and fans.

Since then, the band have had a few setbacks, the biggest being the departures of Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover.

There had been rumours that Marty Friedman and Nick Menza were about to re-join in a reunion of the classic line-up, but that didn’t happen, and instead in came Lamb of God’s Chris Adler and Kiko Loureiro from Angra.

All of the above have probably been factors in Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson deciding to return to a heavier sound.

The majority of the album is pure, classic Megadeth, anthemic choruses and lengthy, thrashy guitar solos coupled with politically charged lyrics offering a social commentary on the world today, the most notable examples being the title track and ‘Post American World’.

Loureiro and Adler, despite being the newcomers, slot comfortably in, listening to Adler’s drumming and Loureiro’s riffs, it feels like they have always been a part of the band, adding weight to Mustaine’s statement that Loureiro is, for him, the best guitarist Megadeth has had since Friedman.

While it may not quite reach the creative heights of their 1990 album ‘Rust in Peace’, it is a welcome return to form for the band and should go down well with their hardcore support.

TOP TRACK: ‘Post American World’

AN ANONYMOUS INTERVIEW

Anonymous interview photo

Photo by ETHAN MORRIS

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Anonymous are a four-piece hard rock band from Uttoxeter, a small Midlands town best known for being the birthplace of the world-famous JCB digger.

They may only be in their late teens and early twenties, but they have already evolved from a rock covers band to playing original material with a heavy, mature sound that appeals to rockers of all ages.

I caught up with them just before their sell-out gig in Derby.

Firstly, how did the band form?

LUKE LAWLEY (BASS): Me, Hayden and Rob were all mates at school.

I was in a band that wasn’t getting off the ground, so I left and asked Hayden and Rob if they fancied getting together at all.

At the same time, a mate of ours, Charlie Kellitt, who would become our first lead singer, was looking for someone to play with her for her uncle’s birthday party.

She approached us and we agreed to play, despite the fact we were just starting out, and we didn’t have a drummer.

Herbie heard about us from a mutual friend, and he was a keen drummer, so he approached us, played a bit, and we liked what we saw. We accepted him into the band there and then.

How did ‘Anonymous’ come to be the band’s name?

ROB BAYNES (VOCALS/RHYTHM GUITAR): It was coming closer to the birthday party, and we were really struggling to come up with a name, so we put ourselves down as ‘Anonymous’ and it stuck.

What are the band’s musical influences?

HAYDEN KIRK (LEAD GUITAR): We have a broad range of influences, both classic and modern.

We all like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Black Stone Cherry, Led Zeppelin, Herbie’s into Breaking Benjamin, more avant-garde stuff, Rob’s a fan of modern metal, post-hardcore, and me and Luke love classic rock.

ROB: I think as a band, these influences bring a lot of individual aspects to our playing style.

LUKE: I base my style on Muse, Led Zeppelin, whereas the others are more soul, blues, funk-oriented.

As a bassist, I think I need to have a broader range from which to play from.

It’s a vast spectrum, but we use elements from all these influences to make our music as good as we know it can be.

You come from a small town. Do you think that makes it much harder for the band to succeed, than if you were from a large city, where they are more opportunities?

HAYDEN: It is a disadvantage, definitely. It makes it much more difficult to break through, because all the big promoters and the important contacts are mostly in large cities, therefore, they seem to prioritise bands that are on their doorstep.

LUKE: An advantage that a band from a large city has is that they can build a bigger fanbase more quickly, therefore, they are going to appeal more to promoters and venue owners.

STEVEN ‘HERBIE’ HERBERT (DRUMS): If anything, it makes us work harder, because if we play a gig in say, Birmingham, we have to be more professional, if we’re aren’t, they won’t want us back and we would have lost a big opportunity.

You mentioned professionalism just then. Some bands around your age seem to play music just for fun. Are you different to that?

HERBIE: We do try to keep it as fun as possible, but it’s a job at the end of the day. We have to maintain an element of professionalism, so we can show people that playing music is what we want to do, and how serious we are about it.

The band has an EP out. How was the experience of recording that?

HAYDEN: It was awesome, a great learning curve. To take the songs that we had written into the studio, give them a few tweaks, it altered our whole perspective on songwriting.

HERBIE: We realised that despite everyone wanting to put their own creative stamp on the record, the most important elements are the songs and how they are written.

LUKE: Matt Ball, our producer, gave us a lot of ideas that helped us in the production. He got us to see our music from more of a listener’s point of view, to try and create something that everyone can listen to.

The band has quite a good live reputation locally. Is it difficult to keep that up?

ROB: We always get nervous before a gig, especially if the last one we did went very well.

It’s good to have that though, because it enables us to remain focused, and that helps us when we get out on the stage and start playing. Once we get into it, the nerves just go.

LUKE: It’s good to learn from the live experience, because it’s so unpredictable, anything can happen, so if we suffer any setbacks, we have to find a way to soldier on.

It is well-known that some bands clash over creative control. Does your band have any problems like that at all?

LUKE: Not really. There’s Andy Hartshorne, our manager, who has helped us out tremendously over the years, but we all try to do our own bit, share the load as it were.

HAYDEN: We try to be diplomatic, which works most of the time. We do have some petty squabbles sometimes, over some tiny thing that doesn’t really matter, but I suppose most bands do it in some way.

Finally, what are the band’s hopes for the future?

HAYDEN: To be a touring band, hopefully. We will try our hardest to achieve this, but if it doesn’t work out, then so be it. It would be fantastic to get further though.

LUKE: Fame and fortune would be great, but if we can just make a proper living out of it, just to keep ourselves going, to not rely on getting other jobs to make ends meet. Our ultimate dream is to turn this into a full-time career.

‘ANONYMOUS’, THE BAND’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP, IS AVALIABLE TO DOWNLOAD FROM THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE http://anonymousofficialuk.bandcamp.com/

PANIC! AT THE DISCO – ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ (2/5)

(Fueled By Ramen/DCD2)

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

 

Panic At The Disco Cover

‘Death Of A Bachelor’ is the fifth studio album from Nevada rock group Panic! At The Disco.

These days, P!ATD are a band in name only, having basically become a solo project of frontman Brendon Urie, and it does show.

He goes into each song with the best possible intentions, but having nobody to bounce ideas off anymore, Urie seems to have thrown around an assortment of differing musical styles and hoped for the best.

For example, the opening track ‘Victorious’, and the closer, ‘Impossible Year’, see Urie try to emulate Queen and Frank Sinatra, but it falls short of the mark.

Urie’s Sinatra impression sounds more like a parody than a tribute, while ‘Victorious’ does not have the musical and lyrical depth that made ‘We Are the Champions’ such a great song.

Other tracks, such as ‘LA Devotee’, start off promisingly, but eventually fall flat.

However, ‘Hallelujah’, which sees a welcome return to a more classic P!ATD sound, is by far the highlight of the album.

Listening to this has confirmed for me that the real creative genius behind P!ATD was former lead guitarist Ryan Ross, and that they have been much poorer for his absence.

If Ross was still around, with his talent for riffs and lyrics, this could have been an entertaining listen, however, the overall result of ‘Death of a Bachelor’ is a confusing mess, with more misses than hits.

TOP TRACK: ‘Hallelujah’