Tag Archives: Album Reviews

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’

 

 

 

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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’

 

 

 

LONELY THE BRAVE – ‘Things Will Matter’ (4/5)

(Hassle)

Lonely The Brave cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Things Will Matter’ is the second studio album from Cambridge alternative rock/post-hardcore outfit Lonely The Brave.

Since the release of their debut ‘The Day’s War’ two years ago, the band have gone from strength to strength, with a growing legion of followers and a well-received split album with former member of My Chemical Romance Frank Iero.

With this follow-up, some aspects have remained, with angst-filled lyrics and a sound borrowed from an eclectic mix of influences still key components of the group’s musical make-up.

However, they have also taken an opportunity to experiment somewhat.

The tracks seem to have had more care taken over them, there is less emphasis on anthemic choruses and more on producing songs that are lovingly crafted and have a clear narrative that better relates to the listener.

Another plus point of ‘Things Will Matter’ is that while some groups tend to put their best work at the beginning of an album and the second half is all filler material, Lonely The Brave have spread it out, with both halves containing a cluster of solid tracks.

It’s a strong second album that should enhance the band’s growing reputation, and I shall be keenly interested in what they have next up their sleeve.

TOP TRACK: ‘Rattlesnakes’

 

 

 

 

 

ISSUES – ‘Headspace’ (3/5)

(Rise)

Issues Album Cover

 

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Atlanta rock band Issues burst onto the scene two years ago with their self-titled debut, impressing many with their smooth handling of an eclectic mix of musical styles.

‘Headspace’, their second studio album, is an improvement in some ways.

There has been a noticeable development with the sound, especially the guitar work and lyrics, which now have added depth.

For example, the best tracks of the album are lyrics-led, dealing frankly with some sensitive themes.

‘Lost-n-Found’ deals with negative treatment of LGBT youths, while ‘Blue Wall’ is based on the subject of police brutality.

However, Issues seem to have taken a backwards step in places, with a few of the songs falling short of the mark.

Unclean vocalist Michael Bohn’s attempts to sing more harmoniously fall rather flat, and some of the experimentations with their sound just doesn’t seem to work.

That said, you do have to give credit to them for at least trying something different with the second album, when they could have just easily released a carbon copy of their debut.

All in all, ‘Headspace’ is a mixed effort, red-hot in some areas, lukewarm in others.

TOP TRACK: ‘Blue Wall’

PIERCE THE VEIL – ‘Misadventures’ (5/5)

(Fearless)

Pierce The Veil Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Many thought that Pierce The Veil would find it hard to top their last album, 2012’s ‘Collide With The Sky’.

The switch to a more progressive sound and the improved lyrics and vocal delivery of frontman Vic Fuentes were a hit with fans and critics alike.

It’s been a lengthy anticipation for ‘Misadventures’, their fourth studio album, but to borrow a slogan from a Dutch lager advert, good things come to those who wait.

Everything, music, vocals and lyrics, seems to have gone up a level, making it the most polished record the Californian post-hardcore outfit have released to date.

The central themes, dealing with heartbreak and mental turmoil, still form an essential component of the band’s identity.

Vic shows why he is seen as one of the best lyricists in rock at the moment, with him openly inviting you into his state of mind with frank, no-holds-barred lyrics.

‘Floral & Fading’ deals with his anger at the social media trolls making his girlfriend’s life a misery, ‘Gold Medal Ribbon’ is about him coming to terms with the death of his high school sweetheart, and the closer ‘Song for Isabelle’ chronicles a friend of his battling mental health issues.

‘Circles’, which has to be the track of the album, is brilliantly put together, with an upbeat sound juxtaposed with lyrics imagining Vic and his girlfriend trapped in a theatre during last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

With ‘Misadventures’, it seems that each member of Pierce The Veil has put in 110% effort.

For me, this has to be a contender for album of the year.

You can make up your own mind, but I think it will be difficult to find another album this year as well-written and produced as this one.

TOP TRACK: ‘Circles’