Category Archives: Album Reviews

THE RAINBAND – ‘The Shape of Things To Come’

(Strawberry Moon Records)

The Rainband Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

In 2016, Manchester indie-rock quintet The Rainband burst onto the scene with their impressive debut album, ‘Satellite Sunrise’, which was a moody, very much blues-led affair.

Two years on, the band have returned with a follow-up, entitled ‘The Shape of Things To Come’.

While the formula of engaging guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, ambitious melodies and powerful vocals that served the immensely-talented outfit so well with their first offering still play a major part in the make-up of the sound, they have used this new release as an opportunity in which to broaden their musical scope.

Some of the tracks, for example ‘New York’ and ‘Is This What You Get?’, have a noticeably brighter and more optimistic feel to them, really capturing the essence of the energetic live performances that they have become known for in the last couple of years.

Lyrically, the five-piece focus on what they describe as “the four L’s” – life, loss, love and laughter.

The Mancunian collective have always taken pride in putting out a highly-polished piece, but they take the production values to a whole new level here.

Some bands, in regards to their albums, will put most of their creative energies into the first three or four songs, and then pad the rest out with generic-sounding songs, but that’s certainly not the way The Rainband work.

It is obvious that they have agonised over giving every single second of each track much due care and attention, which is how it should be.

‘The Shape of Things To Come’ is an entertaining listen, so much so that when you reach the end of the final song, you find yourself immediately wanting to go straight back to the beginning, and relive the experience all over again.

It is easy, by listening to the album, to understand why quite a few famous names in the music world, as well as a lot of the music press, are tipping these guys for greatness, and this should be the release that finally launches them into the indie-rock stratosphere.

If you can only listen to one album, in full, in 2018, make it this.

TOP TRACK: ‘Gimme Love’

(4.5/5)

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE RAINBAND HERE.

 

 

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I FIGHT BEARS – ‘I Fight Bears’

(Lost Generation)

I Fight Bears Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Up to now, I Fight Bears have had nothing but high acclaim for their fast-paced, intense brand of metalcore, so the pressure for them to keep up the momentum for this, the quintet’s self-titled debut album, must have been immense.

It would have been something that would have overwhelmed quite a few outfits, but the Welshmen have used this opportunity to craft ten tracks packed full of vigour and edginess that represents a real step up musically.

They take the key elements of bands such as Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, Lamb of God and Avenged Sevenfold, and merge them all together to create a sound that is truly theirs.

Holding it all together are thrashy, soaring guitar riffs, forceful drum beats, and anthemic choruses delivered at lightning speed with much grit and determination.

The lyrics are represented by hoarse shouts and screams, which intertwine well with softer, more tuneful clean vocals.

Originating from Bridgend, the same place that gave the music world Funeral For A Friend and Bullet For My Valentine, I Fight Bears, with such a spectacular first full-length offering, are now well on their way to becoming the next metal juggernaut to hail from the south Wales town.

TOP TRACK: ‘Lost The Fight’

(4/5)

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE BAND, AND HOW THIS ALBUM WAS PUT TOGETHER, HERE.

 

 

 

OF LEGIONS – ‘Face Value’

(Self-release)

Of Legions Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Face Value’, the debut full-length album from Stoke-on-Trent four-piece Of Legions, sees the band employ a core combination of contagious, gritty, stop-start guitar riffs, hammering drum beats, and a gravelly vocal delivery abundant in aggression as a base on which to branch out into a range of rock genres.

Out of the nine tracks featured on this record, some are highly intense and are delivered at a rapidly accelerated rate, whereas others, such as sixth song ‘Suicidal Thoughts’, are performed at a calmer pace.

This shows how the quartet are able to be diverse with their sound, without venturing too far from its key components.

Other notable examples of this approach include the ways in which they begin each track, with opener and title song ‘Face Value’ starting with a gradual fading in of the instruments, fourth track ‘Worthless’ launching with a full-on musical onslaught, and closer ‘Wormfeeder’ introducing itself with what sounds like radio static.

‘Face Value’ is a formidable debut offering containing much passion and rawness, and sees Of Legions announce themselves as a real force on the British hardcore scene.

TOP TRACK: ‘Suicidal Thoughts’

(3/5)

FIND MORE INFO ON OF LEGIONS, AND HOW THEY PUT ‘FACE VALUE’ TOGETHER, HERE.

 

 

RAGE CAVE – ‘Ride The Rhino’

(Self-release)

Rage Cave Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Ride The Rhino’ is the debut album from Stoke-on-Trent hard rock trio Rage Cave.

Since the release of their self-titled debut EP towards the end of 2016, the band have formed a reputation locally for being a strong live outfit, and when they kindly sent me an advance copy, I wondered, “Can they capture the essence of this on a record?

Well, the answer to that, judging by listening to their new offering, is “Yes“.

They enhance the strengths of the EP, the uncomplicated lyrics, the anthemic choruses, and big, lengthy guitar riffs, while at the same time, improving on what fell slightly short of the mark.

The vocal delivery of Max Jeffries, at times, was dwarfed by the music, and the high notes tended to be a struggle for him, but this time, he does a much better job of making sure those who have yet to see the outfit live know just how robust his singing can be.

The Potteries three-piece have also decided to revisit what were the two best tracks of the EP, ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and ‘Secular Sabbath’, and find ways in which to improve on them.

They are successful in achieving this, the songs, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, fit in well with the new material, which sees them become more adventurous in regards to their sound.

A major example of this is ‘Neanderthal’, a track which is split into three parts. The first section, subtitled with the band’s name, is a rather bluesy and Black Sabbath-esque, whereas the third piece, ‘Kill To Live’, is done at a more accelerated speed, and takes more of an Iron Maiden influence.

The middle part, ‘Space Haze’, acts as an effective instrumental join between the two, really giving Max and drummer Zak Eyrolles a chance to show how much progress they have made musically, and new bassist Kieron Shore an opportunity in which to introduce himself with some funky basslines.

However, the best is saved until last with the title track.

While holding on to the key components of their sound, the band show off just how versatile they can be, with a pounding djembe beat at the beginning, and spoken word and chanting akin to that of an African tribe prioritised ahead of the usual vocal harmonies.

Even though the EP was a good listen, ‘Ride The Rhino’ sees Rage Cave move up to another level, better able to blend their individual musical talents and diverse influences into a coherent sound that is a more fitting representation of the trio’s powerful live performances.

TOP TRACK: ‘Ride The Rhino’

(4/5)

FIND OUT HOW RAGE CAVE PUT TOGETHER ‘RIDE THE RHINO’ HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SILENT DESCENT – ‘Turn To Grey’

(Self-release)

Silent Descent album cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Interviewing Silent Descent prior to the release of ‘Turn To Grey’, their first original studio album since 2012’s ‘Mind Games’, the band had told me how confident they were that it was their best work to date.

Considering the trials and tribulations they had been under in the intervening five years, it was a bold statement to make, however, after listening to all of the twelve tracks that make up their latest offering, I have to say the Dartford/Gravesend outfit’s confidence was justified.

Right from the off, the album is a spectacular, with the six-piece opting for evolution rather than revolution, better crafting and adding further polish to the fusion of trance and metal that they have become known for over the last decade.

Therefore, the band do a much better job of drawing you in with added anthemic choruses, a sound with smoother transitions between intense aggression and soft melody, and a more successful cohesion of the clean and unclean vocals.

Lyrically, the album makes a frank observation of modern society through Matt Wignol, the alter-ego of frontman Tom Watling.

Choosing this as a theme works well, giving the songs added depth and making them more thought-provoking.

A highlight has to be ‘Vortex’, which sees the outfit collaborate with Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Swedish death metal legends Soilwork. Strid’s vocal delivery is an effective makeweight between the clean and unclean vocals, and also accompanies the track composition well.

Overall, ‘Turn To Grey’ marks a triumphant return for Silent Descent, and it’s an offering that should immediately propel them back to the summit of the trance metal genre. 

TOP TRACK: ‘Vortex’

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WSTR – ‘Red, Green or Inbetween’ (4/5)

(No Sleep)

wstr-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Red, Green or Inbetween’ is the debut full-length album from Liverpool pop-punk quartet WSTR.

Since the release in 2015 of their debut EP ‘SKRWD’, which generate rave reviews, the band have grown in stature, gaining a large and fast expanding following and wowing many with their well-received live shows and festival slots.

Therefore, it is little wonder that this offering has been eagerly anticipated for some time.

Well now, it is finally here and on listening to this, the wait has been worthwhile.

The sound, which to the four-piece’s admittance, is directly influenced by the outfits of the first wave of pop-punk, such as Blink-182, Sum 41 and New Found Glory, with upbeat, fast-paced melodies, sing-along choruses and heavy guitar riffery.

This does make it sound rather generic, however, it is bigger and better and a step up from their EP.

The lyrics are where the album is strongest, with frontman Sammy Clifford singing frankly about bad luck, regrets and failed relationships.

Both ‘Footprints’ and ‘Nail The Casket (Thanks For Nothing)’ deal with romantic breakdowns and trying to move on from them, which should relate to anybody who has been going through this, either presently or in the past.

That said, it is clear that the band are a relaxed bunch, taking everything as it comes.

They have worked hard at crafting their sound, but at the same time, seem to have put just as much emphasis on fun and having a good time.

Overall, ‘Red, Green or Inbetween’ is a solid offering that should keep WSTR at their position of being one of the outfits at the forefront of the mainly British based new wave of pop punk.

TOP TRACK: ‘Footprints’

 

 

THREATPOINT – ‘R.I.P.’ (4/5)

(Self-released)

threatpoint-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

With two critically acclaimed studio albums already under their belts, it may have been seen as a tough ask for Pennsylvanian four-piece Threatpoint to top them with their third offering ‘R.I.P.’

However, it is safe to say that they have pulled it off successfully.

The sound throughout, from the opening title track to finale ‘Death Rides Again’, is abundant in intensity and aggression, with thrashy guitar riffs, pounding drum beats and roaring vocals a plenty, it seems that the band have tailor-made each song for the mosh pit.

As well as this, not one track sounds exactly the same, with each song having a unique feel to it.

The music is predominantly groove metal, but also crosses into other sub-genres of metal, ranging from power to death.

For example, ‘Bury The Wicked’ has a dark tone to it, but contains a melodic riff in the middle, whereas ‘Angels With Broken Wings’ features DramaScream vocalist Lauren Balogh, who compliments frontman Chris James with a vocal delivery that switches with ease from aggressive to melodic.

With all of this into the mix, as well as solid songwriting and lyrical themes dealing with life, struggle, hope and spirituality, it makes for a good album overall.

I find it hard to believe that Threatpoint have not yet been signed to a major record label, but hopefully ‘R.I.P.’ will get them some much deserved interest.

TOP TRACK: ‘Light Bleeds Through The Black’