Category Archives: Album Reviews

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE TODAY – ‘Choices’ (4/5)

(Self-released)

take-today-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Choices’ is the debut album from Glaswegian alternative rock four-piece Take Today.

The band have described their sound as a combination of Nirvana, Foo Fighters and fellow Scotsmen Biffy Clyro, and on listening to this, that is perhaps an accurate description, with elements of the work of these three outfits forming the foundations on which they have built this offering on.

The music switches easily with each track, from grungy fare such as the title track and ‘You Were The One’, containing a heavy, loud but catchy sound, to more melodic songs such as ‘The Mend’ and ‘Believe The Difference’, where the quartet try their hand at doing ballads.

This rather eclectic sound works well though, all connected together throughout with two key parts: lengthy guitar solos that alternate between a slow and a fast pace, depending on the track, and a strong vocal delivery from a frontman seemingly channelling his inner Kurt Cobain.

It is a well put together debut, a good listen and the band, even at this early stage of their career, do seem confident of the direction they want to take themselves in musically.

If they can keep up this momentum for the notoriously difficult second album and beyond, then personally, I think that Take Today, in time, will become a force to be reckoned with.

TOP TRACK: ‘Believe The Difference’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCORCHING WINTER – ‘Victim’ (4/5)

scorching-winter-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Victim’ is the debut full-length album from Australian hard rock outfit Scorching Winter.

There has been much anticipation from critics and fans alike, eager to see if the Melbourne five-piece could build on the success of last year’s EP ‘Peripheral’.

Well, in my opinion, it seems that they have.

Everything, the sound, the vocals, the lyrics, the production values, has been taken up a notch.

The sound is rooted in metal, but also at times borrows from other genres, reflecting the band’s eclectic musical influences.

The majority of the tracks contain thundering guitar riffs and anthemic choruses at its core, but there’s occasional forays into more melodic fare.

An example of this is the song ‘Chapter VII: Devil In The Mirror’, where the electric guitars are ditched in favour of a more acoustic sound, which the band pull off well, mainly due to the abundance of talent within its ranks.

Scorching Winter have been likened to acts such as Evanescence, and it is easy to see why, especially in terms of the vocals.

The melodic vocal delivery of Tina Papadimitriou is a consistent presence throughout the album, fitting in well both with the heavier and more gentler output.

Another thing that is constant all through this offering are the lyrics.

Being a concept album, every track acts a chapter within a continuing storyline, which is good, in that rather than listening to just the two or three songs that the band will probably release as singles, the listener has to invest in a character and their journey from start to finish, in order to fully appreciate it.

Just by listening to one of the tracks, it’s clear that a lot of attention to detail has been paid to make ‘Victim’ the strongest it can be, and that the band have put a lot of hard work and effort into perfecting each and every aspect.

‘Peripheral’ was good, but this is a big improvement, and on this basis, it will be interesting to see where Scorching Winter go from here.

TOP TRACK: ‘Chapter III: From The Ashes’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEAK13 – ‘They Live’ (5/5)

weak-13-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘They Live’ is the debut full-length studio album from Midlands rock three-piece Weak13.

Having initially formed back in 1999, it wasn’t until five years ago that the outfit, led by multi-talented frontman Nick J. Townsend, released their first EP, the critically-acclaimed ‘Live Ammo’.

Therefore, there has been a sense of eager anticipation for their latest offering from the band’s loyal fan base.

Straight from the opener ‘My Last Summer With You’, and right the way through to closer ‘Obey The Slave’, it is clear that it has been well worth the lengthy wait.

The sound is mainly a continuation of their experimentally-focused EP, drawing on a varied range of influences.

There’s a real mix of punk, grunge and metal, which in the hands of lesser talents would be a musical mess, but here, they effectively fuse the genres to create something that is truly a great listen.

The main lyrical themes deal with the criticism of the wealthy and powerful, and how they use their assets to manipulate ordinary people.

This is most evident in what is arguably the strongest track of the album, ‘Here Come The Drones’, which serves as both an attack on the establishment for forcing everybody else to act in their own best interests, and everyday citizens for not making enough of a stand against them.

Some of the songs do depart from this subject matter however, most noticeably ‘Loyal Coward’, which contains a more melodic sound and lyrics dealing with a man whose girlfriend has just walked on him.

Townsend’s vocals act as a liaison between the sound and lyrics, with a delivery that seems to be a fusion of Lemmy and Kurt Cobain.

‘They Live’ is an album which has much strength and depth, and serves as perfect justification for Weak13’s tag as one of the biggest names in contemporary British underground music.

Also, it provides a refreshing antidote to some of the shallow, poorly constructed popular music out there currently.

TOP TRACK: ‘Here Come The Drones’