Album Reviews

Rival Sons


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‘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.

Rival Sons – ‘Nobody Wants To Die’

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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.

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Album Reviews

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Council Skies

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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.

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘Council Skies’

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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.

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Album Reviews

Avenged Sevenfold

Life Is But a Dream…

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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.

Avenged Sevenfold – ‘We Love You’

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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!

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Album Reviews

Foo Fighters

But Here We Are

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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.

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Foo Fighters – ‘The Glass’

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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.

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Album Reviews

Sleep Token

Take Me Back To Eden

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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.

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Sleep Token – ‘Take Me Back To Eden’

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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!

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Album Reviews

The Used

Toxic Positivity

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the used – toxic positivity – album review

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.

The Used – ‘Giving Up’

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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!

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Album Reviews

The Amity Affliction

Not Without My Ghosts

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The Amity Affliction – not without my ghosts – album review

All too often bands at the heavier end of the sonic scale find themselves between a rock and a hard place. The choice of either evolve and be criticised or maintain their original sound and be criticised is harsh and unfair.

Even those that have navigated these uncertain seas with great success have often still faced fierce criticism. It’s a dilemma for any band wishing to expand their sound and let’s be honest enjoy greater commercial success.

I’ve always firmly advocated for bands to throw caution to the wind and do whatever it is that they want to do, so it was a shame to see the pack of wolves circling The Amity Affliction after the release of their last album, ‘Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them’.

Those bands that can successfully adjust their sound tend to do so by perfecting a find balance between keeping their identity intact and gradually adopting new sonic threads. Well, this may be the time for The Amity Affliction to capitalise and make their moment count.

The Amity Affliction – ‘Not Without My Ghosts’ feat. Phem

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Their new eighth album, ‘Not Without My Ghosts’, is certainly the band striving for the sound that will take them to greater heights. Some will probably call it a return to form or some other tired cliché but in reality it’s just the encapsulation of everything that has made the band and everything that they want to be.

The good, bad and ugly of their past has guided them to what feels like their time to push themselves to the next level both musically and in terms of their career progression. If you’ve ever been a fan of the band at any point over their twenty year career, you’ll enjoy this album, but crucially it will also attract new fans with its accessibility.

The music industry is damn hard to navigate without the unwarranted pressures of certain fan groups. Following up on their polarising previous album was always going to be make or break for The Amity Affliction, thankfully though they’ve delivered exactly the record that they needed to!

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Album Reviews


Hard Cold Fire

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Thankfully it feels like we are past having to talk about postponements and delays due to the pandemic, but the latest album from Therapy? is another little reminder of what we’ve been through.

Recorded in November 2021, ‘Hard Cold Fire’ is seeing the light of day now having been held back to allow the band to conclude their well received 30th Anniversary Tour. That tour celebrated the incredible journey the band have had; but a major part of their career has always been new music, so it’s fitting that they follow is up with another collection of fresh material.

In fact ‘Hard Cold Fire’ is the band’s 16th album given them an average output of an album just over every two years. Over such a sustained period this is a remarkable achievement, particularly over the past decade during which most acts of a similar ilk would have long slowed down.

Those live shows last year were a clear indication that the band won’t be slowing down anytime soon, either in work ethic or indeed sonically. The velocity at which the riffs on this album are delivered are echoed in the length of the record at just over the half hour mark.

Therapy? – ‘Poundland of Hope and Glory’

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Musically this is Therapy? at their very best and the album simply flies by with all ten tracks adding something to the album. There are some standout moments such as fantastic opener ‘They Shoot the Terrible Master’, the juxtaposition of ‘Woe’ and ‘Joy’ and the stunningly titled ‘Poundland of Hope and Glory’ (fitting on this coronation weekend!), but every track is a winner.

If the delivery rate for Therapy? albums is something to be admired, the consistency in quality truly must be revered. ‘Hard Cold Fire’ isn’t just “another one for the collection”, this is another highly relevant and hard rocking exhibit in the case that Therapy? are one of the most criminally undervalued rock bands of the last three decades!

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Album Reviews

Ryan Hamilton

Haunted by the Holy Ghost

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Ryan Hamilton has always been something of a musical chameleon and on his new album, ‘Haunted by the Holy Ghost’, Hamilton evolves once again. For this album Hamilton takes elements from everything he has done already and wraps them in an Americana inspired bow.

Rock ‘n’ roll, indie rock, power pop and influences from across generations, this album really is a smorgasbord of sonic delights. At this point in Ryan Hamilton’s career, it’s important for listeners to leave their expectations at the door and strap themselves in for whatever wonders have been emanating from his mind.

This is a very enjoyable, fun listen which is obviously an important quality for any album. This record will have you laughing, crying and bopping through three quarters of an hour of finely tuned rock ‘n’ roll mastery.

Ryan Hamilton – ‘Asshole’

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On one of the standout songs, ‘Asshole’, Hamilton sings “…don’t wanna be that guy I’ve been before..”, which is something that seems like something of a motto throughout his career, as he continually reinvents himself.

One thing has remained consistent through his career however and that is the quality of his songwriting. Insightful, deep and meaningful one moment, tongue-in-cheek and brash the next, whatever he turns his mind to, Hamilton comes out with something spectacular.

‘Haunted by the Holy Ghost’ ultimately is another fine release from Ryan Hamilton, which will remain on repeat for quite some time for those that dive in. What comes next from Hamilton, only time will tell, but odds are it will be great!

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 15 – Ryan Hamilton

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Album Reviews

Lottery Winners

Anxiety Replacement Therapy

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The Lottery Winners have been building up an indelible reputation for their incredibly fun live shows. Numerous memorable festival shows and hugely popular support slots have created a real buzz around the band, and now feels like the time for them to strike while that proverbial iron is hot.

With the band finishing out their current headline tour, the iron is in fact not just hot but absolutely steaming and it’s no surprise that they now find themselves in a little chart battle for the number one spot. Some ingenious sales techniques will certainly have helped those pre-order numbers.

But, all that build needs an important thing at the end of the day and that’s a top quality album! So, when you strip back all the showmanship and focus on the music, can the Lottery Winners deliver the goods required to take their next big leap forward?

Lottery Winners – ‘Worry’

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Spoiler alert – you’re damn right they can! ‘Anxiety Repleacement Therapy’ is a perfectly timed blast of infectious indie pop that gets your feet moving and your brain thinking. Sonically uplifting and thematically inspiring, the album takes you on a literal journey towards enlightenment.

There are some purely stunning moments that will have you completely lost in the music such as ‘Worry’, ‘Burning House’ and ‘Sertraline’, then there are times where the smart lyrics will have you considering the depths of your inner being such as the highly relatable ‘Letter To Myself’ and ‘You’re Not Alone’.

Everything on this album just clicks and flows effortlessly. For example, seeing in advance of release that the album would feature guest slots from Frank Turner, Boy George and Shaun Ryder; I wondered if these would take something away from the Lottery Winners and disrupt the album. Quite the opposite is in fact the reality as each fits in seamlessly and works superbly within the context of the album.

The time really does feel like such an important one in the history of the band as they look like they are ready to firmly breakout into the mainstream. They have the live show to back up the music and now they have a masterpiece of an album to showcase, the world very much appears to be their oyster!

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