Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In This Moment Improve New Sound After Their Worst Album

In This Moment's last record, 2012's Blood was critically acclaimed and won over new and old fans alike. I however find that album to be overrated and miss the older records like 2007's Beautiful Tragedy or 2010's A Star-Crossed Wasteland which was in my opinion their opus. The metalcore influence that was present on all of their first three albums. Maria Brink and crew claimed to have found their identity on this industrial metal mishap. While Blood had a few great songs ("Adrenalize," "Whore") it lacked the spark of their first three albums.
When the band announced their album Black Widow and posted on social media about "finding their sound" I was a bit skeptical. However when the band released the album's first single, "Sick Like Me," in September I was impressed. The single was heavy and melodic and mixed in everything that In This Moment had done successfully in the past.
The rest of the album is a step up from Blood. The title track is a dance oriented track that has an intro discussing black widow spiders. The song is a sexy anthem that is heavy and catchy and great. Second single "Big Bad Wolf" is by far the heaviest song on the album. On the song Brink wrestles her inner demons resulting in aggression but also infectious music. "Bones" is a more melodic song that deals with the aftermath of a breakup. Brink sings about not being able to move on from a past love. The song is melodic in the verses and then gets very metal on the hook. "Bloody Creature Poster Girls" is about as close to Lana Del Rey while "Natural Burn Sinner" is a gay anthem about loving yourself. Think "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga or "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk gone metal.
The album's best song is "Sex Metal Barbie." This hip hop inspired anthem is a big middle finger to the haters and bloggers who say that Brink isn't metal enough because she's a woman. Brink is the topic of many a negative comment by people stating that the band are bad and the only reason their famous is because Brink is attractive.
"I heard I don't belong in this scene/ Sexy metal Barbie/ Homicidal queen," Bring sings during the chorus.
While most of the songs are amazing there are a few moments where the band fall short of greatness. "Into the Darkness" is a creepy and downright weird interlude with uncomfortable spoke words by Brink and a man. "Sexual Hallucination" which features Brent Smith of Shinedown is a boring, slow moving ballad that doesn't really go anywhere.
Other than those few mishaps, Black Widow is a great record. It isn't In This Moment's best work but it is better than Blood and that says a lot. This album has helped me regain love of one of my favorite bands. If they keep along these lines they'll get many new fans and have a lot of success.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jennfer Lopez Regains Greatness On New Album

Jennifer Lopez released her eighth album A.K.A last month and it's great. After a few decent albums, Lopez finally stepped up her game.
Whether aiming at the dance floor on songs like "Booty" which features Pitbull, Lopez is at her best. "Tens" which is a bonus track on the deluxe edition features Jack Mizrahi is a dance anthem about fashion and attitude. The album's best song is the title track which features T.I. The song is a hip hop anthem about leaving a lover behind.
"Now I'm Mrs. never stick around/ A.K.A/ Never hold you down/ A.K.A/ Can't figure it out/ A.K.A/ You don’t know me now, oh/ You don’t know me now," Lopez sings with attitude during the chorus.
"I Luh Ya Papi" which features French Montana is an ode to Latino men and sex. "Acting Like That" is a slow hip hop song that features Iggy Azalea. "First Love" is a poppy song about finding true love.
A.K.A. also houses some of Lopez's most effective ballads. "Never Satisfied" is an R&B ballad about Lopez being hard to please in relationships. "Let it Be Me" is a gorgeous acoustic love ballad.
While most of the songs on this record are great some could be done without. "Worry No More" featuring Rick Ross is stupid and a waste of time. "Emotions" is an overdramatic ballad that doesn't really go anywhere. Both of these songs are nowhere near as good as the original first single that was later scrapped for the album, "Live it Up" which featured Pitbull and was a fun dance anthem about living life to it's fullest and having a good time. For the life of me I can't figure out why this song wasn't huge. It had the perfect carefree attitude and club ready sound that should have made it a shoe in at Top 40 Radio.
While there are these unfortunate mistakes, Lopez still shines on tracks like bonus tracks "Same Girl" featuring French Montana, "Troubleaux" which features Nas and the best bonus cut "Exertease (Ready Set Go)."
This album mixes in all of Lopez's strengths and explores many different genres. This is a victory for Lopez. While sales have been low for this record I have hope that this record will eventually explode and a big hit single will bring new life into the album.

Mary J. Blige Releases Sluggish New Album

Mary J. Blige tried to pull a Beyoncé and announced the release of her twelfth album that just happened to be the soundtrack for the film Think Like a Man Too. While Beyoncé's album was great and experimental, Blige's new record is far from great.
Blige has always been known to make emotionally charged music. Usually she releases strong albums but this record seems thrown together. There are a few highlights that make this album somewhat worthwhile.
"A Night to Remember" is a funky cover of the 1982 hit single by Shalamar, This song kicks off the disc right. "Moment of Love" is a midtempo R&B song that discusses love and living in the moment. "See That Boy Again" is a funky R&B song that features Pharrell and is finding love in a club. First single "Suitcase" is the best song on the album and deals with a breakup. Blige has had it and she's packing up and leaving her lover.
"While you're trying to explain/ I'll be zipping up my suitcase," Blige sings during the chorus.
This song is a moment of strength and sass "Power Back" is a song that deals with taking back power in a relationship. "Vegas Nights" brings a hip hop soul sound with a guest appearance from The Dream. This song along with "Suitcase" recall Blige's former glory and make the listener sad that this album isn't better.
The rest of the songs are boing and not memorable. They all seem to blend in together.
This record is sure to be considered great by hardcore Blige fans but casual lovers of the singer may not be impressed. Hopefully after this misstep Blige's next record is a lot better and helps her regain her footing in the music world.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beartooth Release Heavy Debut Album

When Caleb Shomo was in Attack Attack! he mad great music but it wasn't the heaviest in the bunch. When they broke up he formed Beartooth which has very heavy music.
On Disgusting Beartooth have some heavy songs with very few clean vocals. "Beaten in Lips," the first single and one of the album's best songs has heavy verses with Shomo screaming and then a melodic chorus.
However more melodic moments like album highlight "In Between" and "Relapsing" go between clean vocals and harsh screams seamlessly. This is also a great success for Shomo and Beartooth. The chorus on "In Between" has got to be the album's most gorgeously sung chorus and melodic break form the aggressive album.
"Up on the mountain I see down below/ It's easy to lose yourself I know/ Can't hear what you're shouting, I'm deaf to your show/ It's easy to lose your self control/ Everybody gets high, everybody gets low/ Life can be such overdose/ Up on the mountain I see down below/ It's easy to lose yourself I know in the in between," Shomo sings during the chorus.
Other songs like "Dead" and "I Have a Problem" are nearly devoid of all clean vocals. This is also a good sound for the band. It goes to show that Shomo is an effective vocalist regardless of the style of singing in which he is performing.
The album's only attempt at anything near a ballad is "Sick and Disgusting." This song is the closing track and has a slow start. It features Shomo doing a more talk/scream/sing combo.
Beartooth are a good band but they're nothing compared to Attack Attack! That being said Disgusting is a good record and hopefully they continue to keep up with this sound and keep more good records coming.

The Word Alive Keep It Real On New Album

The Word Alive have always been a very eclectic band. Their music combined metalcore along with post-hardcore and experimental metal. Their first two records had a more experimental sound. On Real, their third album, The Word Alive focus more on metalcore with experimental influences.
This album, unlike their previous records 2010's Deceiver and 2012's Life Cycles don't have as many filler songs. Every song on this record is memorable and good.
From the melodic moments like "Lighthouse" and second single "Broken Circuit" to heavier moments like third single "Glass Castle" and "Your Mirage," the band do it all.
This is mostly done with help from singer Telle Smith. Smith's vocals can go from screams to singing at the drop of a hat and he does so very well.
The album's two best songs are the closers. "To Struggle and Claw My Way" is a heavy song that deals with tackling haters and living life to it's fullest. "Collapsing" is a power ballad that recalls early Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and The Used. This song is gorgeous. Smith's clean vocals are great but his screams are really what steal the show on this track. They sound so emotional and painful and truly convey how broken he feels.
Another highlight is the album's opener and first single "Play the Victim." This song recalls past hits 'The Hounds of Anubis" and "Dragon Spell" off their first and second album's respectively.
Real is a great album and goes to show that The Word Alive are not going anywhere. They can keep growing and making great music.

Arch Enemy Unleash War On New Album

Melodic death metal band Arch Enemy announced in March that their longtime vocalist Angela Gossow was leaving the band to spend time with her family and she was to be replaced by Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist. Fans weren't too sure about how this would sound but later on in the month the band released the title track and first single off their ninth album War Eternal. This song not only proved to silence the haters, it is one of Arch Enemy's best songs.
"Remember who you are/ This is fucking war," White-Gluz screams during the bridge.
This is a battle cry against all of the haters who didn't think that Arch Enemy would continue to be great. On tracks like "As the Pages Burn" and "On and On" the band shine like they always did.
The music on this disc is at an all time high for Arch Enemy. Songs like "You Will Know My Name" and "Time is Black" have some great guitar melodies and the drums are out of this world. Instrumental tracks like "Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor)," "Graveyard of Dreams" and "Not Long for This World" all show that the band are far from over and that they still have their chops.
White-Gluz is just as great a vocalist as she ever was on any The Agonist songs. Gone are her signature pig squeals and clean vocals. The only clean vocals are heard on the chorus of "Avalanche." The clean singing is layered under harsh vocals and barely noticeable. White-Gluz had great control of her vocals in The Agonist's songs and that is sorely missed here. However her harsh vocals are great and after a few listens you really get used to the fact that her clean singing days are numbered quite easily.
War Eternal is a great record and she opens a new chapter in the Arch Enemy book. Here's to the new Arch Enemy.

The Amity Affliction Release Decent Album

Australian hardcore band The Amity Affliction released their fourth album and it, like their previous three, is decent but nowhere near as amazing as it could be. The band have so much potential but they just don't live up to it. Let the Ocean Take Me is simply just there.
Good songs on the album include "Pittsburgh," My Father's Son" and "Don't Lean on Me." While these songs are good they are far from great and won't have listeners craving to hear. The band are great musicians and the vocalists are good, but nothing can make this album more memorable.
Hopefully The Amity Affliction can step up their game on album number five and get a lot better.