Tag Archives: Album Reviews

BUNKERPOP – ‘Bunkerpop’

Bunkerpop band logo

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having built up a devoted following in recent years with an eclectic sound drawn from a broad range of musical influences, Hull five-piece Bunkerpop have delivered a self-titled debut album.

Comprising of 12 tracks totalling almost 54 minutes, the band have split their first offering into four manageable parts – all named after colours – each containing three songs, which all reflect a true sonic diversity.

The opening group of tracks – the ‘Red Side‘ – begins with ‘Start Something With A Stop‘, a synth-heavy number that evokes the musical stylings of German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

Despite the fact that it only really comprises of the same four bars of synth repeated on a constant loop, it does an effective job of advertising the quintet’s penchant for avant-garde instrumentals and prepares the listener for what is to come.

Following this is ‘(Are You Ready) For Something‘, which, in comparison to the opener, is a more melodic-sounding affair dominated by piano keys, a consistent underlying tribal drum beat, and the use of snippets of distorted dialogue.

Rounding off the first part of the release is ‘Bunkerpop Theme‘, which marks a return to the synth-led, new wave-esque sound of the opener, albeit with a generally more chilled-out vibe.

Moving onto the ‘Blue Side‘ now, and ‘Stop‘ – a track that will be familiar to anybody who watched the band live in their first year – is a rather psychedelic offering, featuring sounds of crashing waves, and an acoustic guitar rendition of the theme tune to classic children’s television programme ‘Camberwick Green‘.

Kijk‘ is another one of the quintet’s songs to have become a live favourite, being described by fans as “Super Mario on acid“, which on listening to this, can be an accurate description, what with a fast-paced sound that is rather reminiscent of the music from the early days of computer games, accompanied by an odd mix of birdsong, Japanese dialogue, and pins being knocked down in a bowling alley.

In comparison, the ‘White Side‘ opens with the Humberside five-piece venturing down a more traditional route.

Newtown‘ – the seventh track – is noticeable for being the only one to contain so-called “proper” lyrics and vocals, dealing with the boredom of city centre life, with the use of sound effects being kept to a bare minimum.

This number almost acts as a gateway for general listeners who may be put off by the more surreal fare, as following song ‘Don’t Upset The Hawk‘ sees the collective go back into pure avant-garde.

The remainder of this offering, including last part the ‘Black Side’ mainly goes along at a laid-back pace, with some creative experimentation along the way.

Wet Brains‘ – a seven-minute epic – has a relaxed vibe for the majority of that time, however, in the final minute, the sound really gathers pace, building up towards an overwhelming finish, which is a genuine surprise for those listening to the song for the very first time.

Harmony Wheel‘ has a playful, jazz-esque vibe to it, ‘Lovely Eno‘ is a truly atmospheric-sounding affair, and ‘Action After Warnings‘ closes proceedings by featuring the quintet at their most improvisational.

In conclusion, ‘Bunkerpop‘ is a well-crafted album that has much to offer, highlighting a true knack for musical creativity, and provides concrete evidence that the band care more about the music they produce rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator in order to generate a big financial profit, something that is – especially in regards to the mainstream – is sadly becoming a rarity these days.

TOP TRACK: ‘Kijk

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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APPALLING – ‘Inverted Realm’

(Redefining Darkness)

Appalling Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Two years ago, Appalling impressed their growing legion of followers with debut album, ‘Secrets Of The Adept‘, which effectively combined metal that was blackened and brutal-sounding with lyrical content which focused on themes of death, degradation, and the collapse of humanity.

Now – in the late spring of 2019 – the Virginia five-piece have unveiled ‘Inverted Realm‘, a follow-up which sees the band firmly build on the solid foundations they laid with their first full-length offering.

Providing a strong opening to proceedings is ‘Hot Coals For Branding‘, which whilst rather lengthy in comparison to the majority of the other tracks, is chaotic, intoxicating, and alarming, with a fast, aggressive pace throughout, led by a gnarling vocal delivering and infectious guitar riffery.

Shameful Kiss‘ keeps up the heaviness and high energy, with the vocals and intensity almost cranked up to maximum levels, making for a sound that is very moshpit-friendly.

Epileptic Sermon‘ is a rather similar-sounding affair, whilst ‘Artifact And Vessel‘ is slightly slower, but contains grittier riffs, and a bleaker tone overall.

Fifth track ‘A Mutilator At Large‘ is pretty much comprised of three segments, the first and last sounding frantic, fierce, and deliciously evil, with the middle part being calmer, but more anguished, which is represented by the hoarse screaming of the quintet’s frontman.

Critical Thinking‘ marks a return to the musical stylings that were present in songs two and three, containing intense bursts of vocal savagery and merciless instrumentals, accompanied by dark, tense undertones, and closing the album is ‘Templar‘, a five-minute riff-heavy number that sees the sound being blackened to its very core.

Overall, although not entirely abundant in originality, ‘Inverted Realm‘ is a release packed full of well-crafted tracks that really capture Appalling‘s penchant for bleak sonic tones, venom-fuelled vocals, and lyrics that are about as far away from optimistic as you can possibly get.

This album comes highly recommended for all of the moshers out there, and further represents a further step in the right direction for a collective who are now rapidly-growing in popularity.

TOP TRACK:A Mutilator At Large’

(4/5)

 

SABOTEURS – ‘Dance With The Hunted’

(Self-released)

Saboteurs Album Cover

REVIEW by TOM NEIL
ARTWORK by ANITA INVERARITY

Dance with the Hunted‘ is the latest album from Saboteurs, who are a Lincoln-based five-piece who blend together elements of alternative rock, post-punk, and folk. They dropped their first EP back in February 2018, and I strongly suggest that you check it out, but anyway, that’s enough of an introduction, as now it’s time for the main event.

Splintered‘ – the first of 10 tracks that comprise this offering – starts off strong with a live, energetic feel of a crowd talking, before merging into an amazing guitar section that just blows through you.

The song actually feels like it was recorded live, as it has a raw, honest feel that you don’t get from something that was laboured over in a studio.

Splintered‘ is neither too fast or too slow, instead it reaches a middle ground, which I feel pleases fans of both of those musical styles, therefore, the track makes for a great opener.

Over And Doubt‘ is instantly engaging, what with tight vocals that seem to smack you in the face, and a good flow overall, especially with the subtle harmonies between the vocalists, who work together to ensure that they aren’t overpowered by the instruments.

Also, there is a nice, heavy percussive section right in the middle that’s just amazing, and it’s something that you can just lose yourself in.

All of this results in a song that is very dynamic, and one I’ll certainly be listening to again in the future.

Believe Nothing Hurts‘ has a cracking opening that makes me think of a soundtrack from an old film, and from there, the track goes from strength to strength, with well-paced highs merging with fast sections that show what happens when the guitar, bass, and drums are all working in genuine harmony.

Despite its title, ‘Break Down‘ doesn’t quite break things down, as instead it slows the overall pace a little with a pleasing acoustic folky number that has just the right amount of edge to it, and this is a song that I seriously considered for the top track, because I’m partial to folk, and this is a strong example.

Marooned‘ has a slow-paced build-up, which is maintained consistently throughout, which makes for a nice shift, as it’s almost like Saboteurs are easing us back up after the previous number, and if that is the case, then I admire that, as not every band will pay such close attention to the running order of their albums.

Anyway, ‘Marooned‘ just works really well for me, as it’s still got that live feel to it, and as the middle track on what has so far been a pretty substantial album, it’s certainly not letting the Lincoln quintet down.

In my opinion, ‘I Think My Face Hates Me‘ has a slightly different vibe to the songs that have come before it. It’s still a strong addition, but it changes things up, which is an interesting choice as we moved towards the second half of this release.

It is rather enjoyable, though, as it’s energetic, the pacing isn’t frenetic, but it knows when to let loose a little, and as a result of this, it impressed me more than enough to earn the accolade of top track.

‘One Track Mind’ marks a return to the style of the earlier numbers, as like a lot of songs on this, it’s neither heavy, slow, or melancholic, it represents a musical journey.

Whilst not the best that this album has to offer, the title track is a good, strong entry, and ‘Traces‘, while it is slower and a little more subdued that some of the other songs, doesn’t surrender any power, and still manages to pack a mighty punch, and along with ‘Break Down‘, this nearly grabbed the top track slot, whilst ‘Willows‘ finishes proceedings off by picking up the pace slightly, opening with thrashing guitar riffs and powerful vocals, which certainly doesn’t disappoint.

One final thing that I have to say on the album is that I just love ‘Dance With The Hunted‘ as a title, as it is so evocative.

TOP TRACK:I Think My Face Hates Me

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DELAMERE – ‘Delamere’ (4/5)

(Scruff of the Neck)

delamere-cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN 

Originally from Stoke-on-Trent, but now adopted Mancunians, Delamere’s self-titled full debut has been eagerly anticipated, following the success of last year’s EP ‘Bright Young Things’, exposure on such programmes as Made In Chelsea and Soccer AM and the fact they recorded at the same Liverpool studio where Blossoms put together their recent chart-topping offering.

Right from the very beginning, it is clear that this is definitely not going to be a run-of-the-mill first LP.

With each track, the band bring something new to the table, with a diverse, mature sound switching seamlessly from soft to heavy, for example, the tender ‘Woods’ is sandwiched between two of the heftiest sounding songs, ‘Heart’ and ‘Headstrong’.

A constant is the emotive, melodic vocal delivery of frontman James Fitchford, which fits both the slower and more faster paced compositions easily.

Some albums will have three or four brilliantly crafted tracks, with the rest basically being filler material, but with this, you can tell much care and attention has gone into getting everything right.

It is one of the strongest debut albums I have heard in a long time, and judging by this, it will surely only be a matter of time before Delamere are enjoying the same success that bands like Blossoms are at the moment.

TOP TRACK: ‘Black & White Space’

 

 

 

LETLIVE. – ‘If I’m The Devil…’ (4/5)

(Epitaph)

Letlive Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

If anybody was hoping that Los Angeles post-hardcore outfit Letlive. were going to pick up exactly from where they left off, then prepare to be disappointed.

‘If I’m The Devil…’, their fourth studio album, sees the band, led by straight-talking frontman Jason Butler, venture out of their comfort zone.

The sound, even though it can still be classed as post-hardcore, is more experimental, with an eclectic variety of influences, ranging from new wave, hip-hop and indie.

When Panic! At The Disco went down a similar route for their latest album earlier this year, it fell rather flat, whereas Letlive. succeed, mainly thanks to the group’s musical talents and the stewardship of Butler, who shows off a diverse vocal depth, successfully switching from crooning to ranting with relative ease.

In a recent interview, the band said that lyrically, this is the most politically and socially minded record they’ve ever put together, and they are exactly right.

Many of the tracks explore a lot of the political and social issues facing the USA at the moment, with the best example being stand-out song ‘Good Mourning, America’, chronicling the history of discrimination and misrule of authority across the pond.

However, you don’t have to be American to get the message Letlive. try to put across, as the topics very much apply to most other countries in the world right now.

The group made a big risk changing what was a winning formula, but they do enough to keep the majority of their devoted fanbase happy, and at the same time may very well win over some of those who have dismissed them in the past.

TOP TRACK: ‘Good Mourning, America’

BEARTOOTH – ‘Aggressive’ (4/5)

(Red Bull)

Beartooth Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Ohio band Beartooth burst onto the scene two years ago with their full-length debut ‘Disgusting’, winning plaudits for their raw fusion of metalcore and hardcore punk and the frank, deeply personal lyrics of frontman Caleb Shomo.

Coming up with a emulating follow-up seems to be notoriously difficult for a lot of musicians, but the group look to have had no problems with achieving this with ‘Aggressive’.

They have kept the elements of what made ‘Disgusting’ a success, however at the same time, there are a few subtle changes.

There is an increase of intensity and energy to the overall sound, with a slightly more aggressive vocal delivery from Shomo.

The main strength of Beartooth remains the lyrics, with Shomo inviting you freely into his state of mind.

By the album’s conclusion, it’s as if he has become a close friend, confiding in you about his struggles and insecurities and the obstacles he has faced, which shows what a talented lyricist he is.

If you are a young rock fan who is not going through a great time at the moment, then ‘Aggressive’ will be of definite appeal.

TOP TRACK: ‘Loser’

ARCHITECTS – ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ (4/5)

(Epitaph)

Architects Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Up until now, Brighton metalcore outfit Architects have used each album as an experimentation on their sound.

This has produced some good results, such as 2009’s ‘Hollow Crown’, now becoming seen as a modern classic, and not so good, for example, 2011’s ‘The Here and Now’, which saw them go more towards ballads, received a lukewarm response and has since been disowned by the band.

With ‘All Gods Have Abandoned Us’, their seventh studio album, they have mainly stuck to the formula that won them plaudits for their last offering, 2014’s ‘Lost Forever//Lost Together’, even electing to stick with the same production team.

Architects now seem to have found their niche: a heavy sound deeply rooted in metal, with politically-charged lyrics.

The lyrics are centred around themes of religion, politics and human morality, with vocalist Sam Carter musing over his loss of faith in humanity and organised religion, as well as giving his views on topical subjects.

This all comes together in the excellent ‘A Match Made In Heaven’, where Carter verbally attacks the American and British governments for invading countries in the Middle East and leaving them in chaos, resulting in the rise of Islamic State.

The subject matter is a perfect compliment to the sound, which is the group’s heaviest and darkest to date.

From the beginning of opener ‘Nihilist’ to the end of lengthy final track ‘Memento Mori’, ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ takes you on a headbanging journey which also makes you ponder the state of the world.

With this, Architects have proven that they have fully recovered from the crisis of identity they suffered after the huge success of ‘Hollow Crown’, and it will be interesting to see where they go next.

TOP TRACK: ‘A Match Made In Heaven’