‘DARKFIGHTER’ is the first of not one but two new Rival Sons’ albums expected this year. Perhaps they are making up for lost time as this marks the longest gap between albums in their albeit short career with their sixth album, ‘Feral Roots’ arriving back in January 2019.
The wait is evidently worth it though as straight out the gates the album promises a little bit of everything that has made the band such an important part of the new wave of classic rock bands. ‘Mirror’ for example sees the band swapping elegant guitar riffs and delicate melodies in the way that they do so well.
The lead single and shortest track on the album, ‘Nobody Wants To Die’, then reminds us of their ability to create short succinct rockers as well as longer sonic voyages (of which this album gets a couple).
The eight tracks on this record all stand on their own merit and collectively represent another stunning snapshot of a masterful band. When they are at the peak of their powers, nobody quite does it like Rival Sons. ‘Bird in the Hand’ and ‘Guillotine’ here being two tracks that encapsulate the majesty and the force present in the band.
Fans of the band will surely feel that this album ranks amongst the best that they have put out, which is saying something! With ‘Lightbringer’ expected to arrive later this year alongside a UK Tour, it would appear to be a very good time to be a Rival Sons fan.
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – COUNCIL SKIES – ALBUM REVIEW
Upon the split of Oasis, not many would have pegged that come 2023, Liam Gallagher would be the more successful brother. That certainly wasn’t the case in the immediate aftermath with Noel launching Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to great success and Liam faltering with new group Beady Eye.
Over the next decade though Liam would offer a resurgent defiance whilst Noel would disappear down a rabbit hole, but now Noel is back with new album, ‘Council Skies’, hailed by the man himself as “going back to the beginning”.
Recent work has seen Gallagher experimenting with elements of his sound (scissors anymore?), and this has coincided with waning interest in his new output from fans. A back to basics approach then would make some commercial sense for Gallagher.
What you get instead on this album is a mixture of the two. You can see that Gallagher has taken a simplified approach to the creative process, but there are still remnants of his more recent direction in here.
Gallagher does appear stuck in a hole, whilst his brother continues to attract new younger audiences, Noel doesn’t seem to have that appeal. So whilst he probably has the bigger desire for sonic exploration, he has a fanbase just craving another ‘Definitely Maybe’.
Those fans will enjoy this album, but they’ll also be unlikely to return to it all that often. ‘Council Skies’ may be Gallagher hitting the reset button having felt the stagnation of recent years, and if so it will likely do the job well. That said at this point the only thing that fans are really waiting on is the reunion of all reunions. Gallagher though seems relatively happy in his current safe position.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD – LIFE IS BUT A DREAM… – ALBUM REVIEW
New Avenged Sevenfold albums are becoming rarer entities these days (it’s seven years since ‘The Stage’!), but it’s becoming tradition for them be polarising on release and subsequently embraced.
2013’s ‘Hail to the King’ was too mainstream, ‘The Stage’ was too progressive, and now many will write off new album, ‘Life is But a Dream’ as too weird and “out there”! Ultimately though, many look back fondly on those last two albums, and that will likely be the case once again here, but that may take some time.
The band have always been ambitious in their songwriting and been willing to push boundaries. This album certainly does that from the System of a Down-esque thunderous opening to ‘Game Over’ through various other influences both heavy and light.
In many ways it feels like the band have thrown paint on a wall and seen what it looks like once dry. The reality though is the opposite, clearly the band have spent considerable time (some would argue too much) working in all their ideas.
One thing for sure is that this is an album that warrants repeated listens. There is so much depth here that it’s impossible to take everything in first time around. By design it’s also an album that is greater than the sum of its parts. Songs that individually may feel too quirky like pre-release singles, ‘Nobody’ and ‘We Love You’, take on new life as part of the collective.
Often certain music is described as ‘marmite’ – you either love it or hate it. With ‘Life Is But A Dream’, Avenged Sevenfold have perhaps given the best example yet for that statement. Fans are either going really hate this, or they will really, truly love it. There will be no in-between!
We all experience grief at some point in our lives, thus we can all relate to what the members of Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl in particular have experienced over the past year. The tragic passing of beloved drummer Taylor Hawkins shocked everyone, and Grohl, suffering the loss of a bandmate and friend not for the first time, also sadly endured the loss of his mother with whom he shared a deep bond.
This album therefore should come with a warning that you need to have a box of tissues at the ready. You’ll work through a range of emotions over the ten tracks, but feelings of loss and love will really tug on your heartstrings.
This is naturally a different album than what would have followed much maligned 2021 release, ‘Medicine at Midnight’. One constant though is that new album, ‘But Here We Are’, sees the band again work with producer Greg Kurstin for the third time. Despite the recent news of Josh Freese taking up the sticks for the band, it’s Grohl who handles drum duties for this deeply personal record, which feels very fitting.
Clearly a lot of love and care has gone into the creation of this album and that shines through on every track. This is a statement of love for those lost but also an opportunity of catharsis for the band.
Lyrically the album is a brutally honest insight into Grohl working through the events of the last year. Sonically though the album is somewhat of a throwback to past glories for the band as they exorcise the demons of their previous album, which didn’t quite hit the spot for many fans.
You can say this album musically goes back to basics, and that fits the raw subject matter very well. This is in many ways the best Foo Fighters album in a decade or more. The themes behind the album will likely be the thing most remembered about this album and that should be the case, but it’s important that we don’t neglect the fact that this is a damn good album at the same time.
Voodoo Daddy’s in Norwich really is a great little venue for an old school rock n roll show, so it’s a good thing that we are here tonight for just that!
There are three bands on offer tonight with our headliners The Pearl Harts celebrating the recent release of their latest album, ‘Love, Chaos’.
Up first are locals Collars, who do a fantastic job in getting the early crowd warmed up. The unique duo have something a little different to offer, which is always important when there are so many acts out there battling for a limited audience.
That shines through tonight and clearly the audience here in the venue appreciate the experience. The duo are able to control the crowd well and convey their sonic goods with effortless aplomb.
The main support for this tour comes from upcoming rockers HotWax who take things to the next level with their assured performance. The trio play a selection of tracks from recently released EP, ‘A Thousand Times’, which sound enormous live.
The likes of ‘Treasure’, the title-track and set closer ‘Rip It Out’ demonstrate why the hype train is starting to pick up for a band with a big future. The band play with experience beyond their years and certainly make an impression on the thrilled crowd.
THE PEARL HARTS
Soon enough it’s time for our headliners to take to the stage and as soon as they do, you feel the presence of stars. The Pearl Harts have just followed up their stunning debut album with another sensational collection of fun rockers.
The duo completely own the stage and ‘Baby Chaos’, ‘Pullin’ My Brains Out’ and ‘Lara’ set the tone early for the rest of the night. Polished yet rough and ready, The Pearl Harts somehow capture the juxtaposition of the two with ease; singles ‘More’ and ‘Hypocritical’ showcasing this next.
There is a fierce power in the duo but this is seized and presented with a real shine. The crowd are almost left in awe of the ferocious majesty on display as the band plough through ‘Suck It Up’, ‘Gold’, ‘Wild Me’ and ‘Different Kinda Girl’.
On record The Pearl Harts are spectacular, but on stage they are simply phenomenal. Even broken strings can’t stop them and ‘Hurt’ and ‘Hit The Bottle’ quickly follow reminding fans of the quality of their debut album, ‘Glitter and Spit’.
The intense finale of ‘Black Blood’ is enough to ensure the audience leave with huge smiles on their faces. After all, they’ve just caught three very good bands in a great little music venue. Surely there’s not a better way to spend a Bank Holiday?
Rock fans know that festival season is upon us when we get to the late May Bank Holiday weekend and Slam Dunk Festival brings rock and punk fans to Hatfield and Leeds.
This year that journey takes a little longer for some due to traffic issues, probably borne out of the fact that both events are sold out. Leeds in particular feels like the Temple Newsam is bursting at the seams today.
Queues are unimaginably long for merch, toilets, food or anything else, but thankfully the music (and weather) is very much on point!
We start the day in the ‘Knotfest’ tent for rising metallers Heriot, who attract a decent sized early crowd. That crowd is treated to a blistering set of gloriously heavy goodness and a spirited performance from a band on the cusp of bigger things.
It’s then a short walk over to one of two outdoor main stages, the ‘Amazon Rock Scene’ stage, where we will spend most of our day today. Taking this stage next are VUKOVI who absolutely own the stage and showcase their superb new album, ‘NULA’. Singer Janine is able to hold the audience in the palm of her hand and orchestrate the first truly great set of the band.
Logistically the event may be remembered for the wrong reasons, but musically today is fantastic, with that set from VUKOVI one of many that will live long in the memory for all the right reasons.
Thinking, we’ll go for a quick wonder around, it’s clear that nothing will be quick today, but we do catch a glimpse of girlfriends who are very impressive for the time we can stay. Soon though we must head back down the hill to catch Trash Boat.
This is a band that has grown significantly in almost every sense of the word over the past few years. Their latest album, ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’, was one of the most surprising of 2021 as the band took their sound to new heights. Today they use the stage to bring many of these tracks to life and the crowd are clearly appreciative of another excellent performance.
Trash Boat are followed on stage by Holding Absence who have just announced that their third album, ‘The Noble Art of Self Destruction’, will be out later this year. Their set today is a good mix of old and new including brand new single, ‘False Dawn’ and fan favourite ‘Afterlife’, which gets a monumental response from the passionate crowd.
Soon enough it’s over to Wargasm who are becoming one of those marmite bands where it’s almost cool to hate them. The energy and ferocity that they put into their show however can’t be denied and whilst the energy levels for some of the crowd starts to sap, the band push through with tracks such as ‘Backyard Bastards’ and ‘Spit.’ getting everyone back moving.
We then head over to the other end of the festival site (very slowly) to the ‘Kerrang’ stage where the tent is overspilling already ahead of Boston Manor. The band are on top form right now and have every person singing along to their gargantuan anthems. As they conclude their time on stage with ‘Halo’ you can’t help but think that Boston Manor deserve to be absolutely huge.
It’s a blast from the past next as Slam Dunk keep up their track record of reformations with Kids In Glass Houses. Playing their first shows in almost a decade the band focus their set on ‘Smart Casual’, which will be getting a re-release later this year. Songs like ‘Saturday’ and ‘Give Me What I Want’ still have it and so do the band who fly through the set like they’ve never been away.
Sticking to the same stage we are soon graced by PVRIS who deliver another really good performance which features a well structured setlist. Lynn Gunn leads the trio through a selection of their popular tracks with ‘You and I’ and ‘My House’ both getting big audience responses. The band will return with their fourth album in July, and new track ‘Goddess’ goes down very well today complete with guest spot from Charlotte Sands.
We are at the business end of the day now and up next on stage are Billy Talent who are able to deliver a pure masterclass in how to make the most of a shortened festival set. Banger, after banger, after banger as the band deliver suckerpunch after suckerpunch. The crowd reciprocate the bands energy and by the time the set finishes with ‘Red Flag’, the band have done enough to claim the band of the day moniker!
In the clash of the headliners, we opt to head to the ‘Dickies’ stage for punk icons The Offspring. The band have an endless stream of hit songs, and tonight the band focus more on their back catalogue then they did at Hatfield yesterday.
Their covers section in the middle feels a little too much considering their short time on stage but nobody can deny the final run of tracks which provides a great end to a packed day both musically and in terms of the volume of people on site!
Slam Dunk is a trusted brand these days and musically they’ve delivered once again, but there are undoubtedly some logistical issues that need to be fixed. Perhaps they’ve once again outgrown their homes and need to find bigger accommodation, one thing is for sure though and next May will again see a packed line-up heralding the dawning of a new festival season.
Welcome everyone to a special Bank Holiday edition of our weekly music News Report!
We begin this week with the best tour announcements from the past week and get things started with Black Stone Cherry!
The US rockers will release their new album, ‘Screamin’ At The Sky’ on September 29th.
To celebrate the group have revealed a short run of truly intimate UK dates around the release.
Revealing the dates the band said, “Calling all UK Cherryheads! We couldn’t be more pumped to announce these shows in September and October. We’re putting together an intimate show to play all our new music, and we want to see y’all there.”
Holding Absence have announced a full headline UK & EU tour, which will take place later this year.
The band said “We are ecstatic to announce our “The Noble Art Of Self Destruction” headline tour around the UK and Europe! Not only is this a well-overdue headline tour for our European fans, but it’ll see us playing our biggest venues to date in the UK too! We are so excited for this tour, and to be able to play all the best songs from our first three albums.”
The news comes ahead of brand new album, ‘The Noble Art of Self Destruction’, which arrives on August 25th.
Teenage Fanclub have shared details of the new album. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ is due out on September 22nd.
Ahead of the release, the band have also debuted new single, ‘Foreign Land’, which you can check out above.
Norman Blake on the single: “The song is about moving forward, not dwelling on the past. We shot the video in Hamilton Mausoleum, near Glasgow. Given that the album is calledNothing Lasts Forever we thought it would be appropriate to shoot a video inside a tomb”.
This week saw VEXED unleash their new single, ‘X My Heart (Hope To Die)’, which you can check out above.
The song comes ahead of anticipated new album, ‘Negative Energy’, which is out June 23rd.
The band on the single:“’X my <3 (hope to die)’ was the catalyst for Negative Energy. After months of writers block and feeling like giving up, this song opened the floodgates for inspiration and creativity. Inspired by the victims of religious extremists, cults or abuse of power, this song is about how one person shouldn’t be able to dictate other people’s lives based on their own personal opinions.”
Regarding the album,. the band says, “We are so proud to present to you our second album. Since our first release, we have each endured traumatic experiences, surrounded by death, betrayal, pain and grief. In order to find any strength, we first had to accept that we weren’t okay, then take our trauma and face it head on, sharing our vulnerability, fears and weaknesses. Instead of forcing ourselves to try and be positive we put all our negative energy into the album in order to begin our own repair and to overcome.”
Militarie Gun have shared their latest single, ‘Will Logic’, which you can check out above.
The track will feature on upcoming debut album, ‘Life Under The Gun’, which is out June 23rd.
Speaking about the new track vocalist Ian Shelton says: “’Will Logic’ is meant to be pure spite, it’s the moment of realisation that someone is trying to take advantage of you and deciding you won’t allow it to happen. There’s some melancholy and fatigue in there, though ultimately it’s a desire for the world to be trustworthy.”
Northern Irish metal outfit ARCHIVES haveshared a monolithic new single titled ‘Matriarch’.
“Matriarch is a song about how human beings process loss & grief in many different forms. In this case hiding away from the reality of losing someone even if it means you may never get to properly say goodbye in order to save your last memory of a loved one being a positive one & not bed ridden. Grief is difficult. The inevitability of someone’s life decaying is something you can only hide away from briefly eventually you have to face the music.” – Vocalist, Adam Holland
Strange Company – ‘Overrated’
Welsh three-piece rock outfit Strange Company have shared their brand new single ‘Overrated’.
“Overrated is all about perspective. If someone says “stay in your lane” or “no you can’t”, I’m instantly thinking “yes I can, just watch me” and dying to prove them wrong. But when these phrases are coming from my own thoughts, when the self-doubt creeps in, it really takes over and I find myself scared of trying for fear of getting burned. Realising this, seeing these patterns and learning how to deal with them to push beyond the fog of worry changed the game for me. So this song is really both of these rolled into one – it’s a middle-finger to the naysayers and at the same time it’s an awareness, acceptance and step forward through our own fears and doubts.” – Matt Davies
DEADSET – ‘The Art of Pointscoring’
DEADSET have released their highly charged, emotive debut single ‘The Art of Pointscoring’.
“The song is an earnest outlook on the toxic environment that can be birthed when you’re struggling to coordinate mental health issues,” says Sam Mellors from the band. “That apathy you experience in which you feel empathy but struggle to act upon it. It’s an ugly subject but writing about it in a vulnerable and genuine way helps to process and accept your own falsities and mistakes; and the accepting of a situation you can’t change when someone else is feeling the same, accepting both parties can make mistakes. It helps me learn vulnerability and forgive others whilst also learning how to change bad behaviour patterns myself.”
The hype around Sleep Token is interesting. They’ve been around for some seven or so years now, and already have two EP’s and two albums to their name ahead of their third full-length ‘Take Me Back To Eden’. Their success then shouldn’t be considered to be “overnight”. That said, the hype train has certainly picked up speed over the last year, perhaps influenced by a certain social media app.
Mystery still surrounds the group both naturally and by design; and whilst many are jumping on the bandwagon, there are also those that are out to shoot the band down. A somewhat polarising start to life then for the band, and that’s rather fitting listening to this new trilogy closing album.
It smacks of an album that will split fans and critics alike by its very grandiose nature. For some it will be an epic masterpiece that should be revered for its ambition. Alas for others it will be deemed a bloated, over-produced, self-indulgent slog of an album.
The truth, is probably somewhere in between the two, but definitely skewed towards the former. The ambition in making a heavy yet accessible, atmospheric yet colossal sound come to life has to be admired.
The great moments on this album are truly phenomenal, and there is so much to dissect across the hour plus, twelve song collection of sonic reverence. Multiple listens will be essential to fully grasp this offering from Sleep Token.
That said, the fact that a large part of their audience has arrived from a social media app centred on short length clips is interesting. Will this following connect with the likes of the eight minute epic title-track?
As always with Sleep Token, you may feel that there are more questions than answers on this album. But then, after all isn’t that a large part of the appeal? One thing is certain and that’s wherever they go next, the world will be watching!
Following somewhat in the footsteps of 2016’s ‘Popestar’ EP, Ghost are back with another collection of unexpected cover songs on new EP, ‘Phantomine’.
‘Popestar’ arrived at a crucial time in the bands career and so does ‘Phantomine’, with the band on the cusp of the upper echelons of the industry. What this EP lacks over ‘Popestar’ is a big original single to lead the EP, with this collection featuring just the five cover tracks.
In their career when Ghost have ventured into covers, they’ve displayed a knack to Ghostify the tracks covered. That again is evidenced here no better than on Genesis cover ‘Jesus He Knows Me’. Other tracks though such as Iron Maiden classic ‘Phantom of the Opera’, they stay closer to the original than perhaps wished.
Overall though the five tracks work well and this is another example of the magic that this band possesses. ‘Phantomime’ may not have the impact of ‘Popestar’ in the grand scheme of things, but it will be important in Ghost folklore, so is a must own for dedicated fans, plus, hey, who doesn’t want to hear Ghost take on Tina Turner!
When The Used initially broke-through in 2002 with their self-titled debut album, they were received in a somewhat marmite way by fans. They either loved them, or hated them. Few on either side though would have put any money on them going through the next twenty plus years intact.
Perhaps even fewer would have predicted that their eighth album, ‘Heartbreak’, out back in 2020 would’ve been such an important one, receiving much acclaim upon release.
That means that ‘Toxic Positivity’ does have some pressure on it to emulate the successes of its predecessor. But much of that pressure disappeared with the relatively slim build-up for the album, with only a couple of pre-release singles and ‘Giving Up’ coming just days before release.
That’s quite rare these days but is nice, because when you hit play on the new record, you don’t really know what to expect. An opening track as powerful as ‘Worst I’ve Ever Been’, would normally be given away ahead of release these days. Instead it’s a punch to the face that instantly makes a statement.
That is followed up by the one fully pre-release single, ‘Numb’, and the combative ‘I Hate Everybody’, as the themes of the album are laid bare early. Singer Bert McCracken has been brutally honest about the mental health related issues covered on this record, and some may find it a tough listen. Others though will find some solace from an album that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Musically this album is an accumulation of everything that has seen The Used though the past two decades. It’s again produced by John Feldmann, so there should be no surprise that it’s again packed full of catchy sing-a-long pop rock moments.
As well as benefitting from the lack of pre-release material, the relatively short runtime of the record also makes it disappear in an enjoyable flash. The Used however have proven why they’ve had such longevity, and against what many would’ve predicted back in the hedonistic days of 2002, the band confirm that they are no flash in the pan!