Monday, February 24, 2014

Within Temptation Get Back to Basics on New Album

Within Temptation's new record Hydra takes them back to the sound that first got them attention. On the band's fifth album, 2011's The Unforgiving, the band had a more polished and poppy sound. The album was good, but far from as good as they once were.
On Hydra the band are more experimental, but in a good way. With guest apeparances from rapper Xzibit, Tarja Turunen of Nightwish fame, Howard Jones who used to sing in Killswitch Engage and David Pirner of Soul Asylum.
This album, like their previous other records mixes in symphonic metal with power metal and occasional gothic metal influences. Singer Shannon den Adel's voice never falters or gives in to the aggressive music.
While most of the collaborations add something to the song, some don't. "And We Run" featuring Xzibit starts out as a regular symphonic metal track before Xzibit rips it with some great rapping. "Dangerous" which is the second single off of the album features Jones is a great song and his vocals add to the song. The same is true with "Paradise (What About Us?" which is the first single and features Turunen. This is also one of album's best songs. "Whole World is Watching" features Pirner and this song could do without his vocals. It really doesn't add anything to the song.
Other highlights include "Let Us Burn" which opens the album in a catchy and aggressive way. "Edge of the World" which is a low key ballad that starts out with synths and is a great way to have fans catch their breath and relax after being assaulted by the aggressive first four songs.
The album has some guttural growls from guitarist Robert Westerholt. "Silver Moonlight" and "Tell Me Why" benefit from his growls and it gives fans of more metal sounds delight.
The album's bonus disc contains four covers and all of them are improvements on the original songs. The band's covers of "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey and "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons are the best coves on the disc. "Dirty Dancer" by Enrique Iglesias is covered as well and they improve on it. The band also cover "Let Her Go" by Passenger.
All in all the album is an improvement on their last record. If the band keep it up the way this album is going then they'll always keep their fans. Also the band should experiment more. Metal band are not known to try new things but Within Temptation have proven that they can do that.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Of Mice & Men Release Best Album

Of Mice & Men haven't always been the best band. Their music on their past albums was generic metalcore and had a few great songs but nothing too amazing. Then last month the band released their third record Restoring Force.
This album combines in a nu-metal sound. While nu-metal isn't usually good (Limb Bizkit, Korn) it can sometimes be great (Otep, older Kittie) and bands like Suicide Silence have had nu-metal influences on their recent records.
The band have finally found what makes them great. The band's vocals don't really vary that much from the traditional metalcore mold. Screamed verses by lead vocalist Austin Carlile who is well known for being in Attack Attack! for their first record and clean vocals on the choruses done by Aaron Pauley.
This is really done well on songs like "Feels Like Forever," "Glass Hearts" and "Bones Exposed. These songs are some of the best on the disc. These songs contrast with other songs such as "Would You Still Be There," "Space Enough to Grow," "Identity Disorder," and "Another You" which feature predominantly clean vocals by Pauley. On "Break Free" Carlile gets to shine as most of the song is unclean vocals. This song is one of the heaviest song on the album and has a chorus that is mostly unclean vocals with some cleans by Pauley peppered in. "You Make Me Sick" is another example of this. This song is the heaviest on the record and it's angry and will be sure to induce mosh pits for many shows to come.
The album's two best songs are the album opener "Public Service Announcement" and first single "You're Not Alone." "Public Service Announcement" is an angry song that tells off internet haters and anybody who doubts the band or talks negatively about them. This song is so honest and that's why it's an album highlight. "You're Not Alone" has a very nu-metal melody and is a catchy, fun, heavy song that just gets stuck in your head for days.
Restoring Force is by far Of Mice & Men's best record and it sets the bar pretty high for them in the future. Hopefully things can only go up from here.

Periphery Experiment On New EP

Progressive metal band Periphery released their second EP Clear last month. The EP contains an intro written by the entire band and then six other tracks written by each member of the band.
"Overture" is the intro track and is an instrumental cut that sets the mood of the EP and starts out the melodic theme for the other songs.
"The Summer Jam" written  by guitarist Jake Bowen is classic Periphery. Catchy clean vocals and djent guitar chords. Singer and guitarist Spencer Sotelo shows his vocal range and goes seamlessly going between harsh vocals as he does so well on most Periphery songs.
"Feed the Ground" is written by drummer Matt Halpern. The song sounds like a lot of Periphery songs and while it isn't a bad song it doesn't do anything different or better than other songs by the band. It's catchy enough and Sotelo's clean vocals are on point as are his unclean vocals.
"Zero" was written by guitarist Misha Mansoor is an instrumental cut that holds it's own with the rest of the band. The instruments are insane and while I'm not really a fan of instrumental music, this song is still great.
"The Parade of Ashes" is written by vocalist Spencer Sotelo. This song is a poppy yet heavy song that is the best song on the EP as well as one of the band's best songs in general. It's catchy and aggressive and is sure to be a live favorite for years to come.
"Extraneous" is written by bassist Adam "Nolly" Getgood and it's an instrumental cut that isn't as good as "Zero" but it's still heavy and it slays.
"Pale Aura" is written by guitarist Mark Holcomb. The song is a good way to close the album. It starts off with Sotelo doing unclean vocals. Then in the chorus Sotelo employs epic clean vocals. This song is a great way to close off the EP.
While this EP is hit and miss, it does show that Periphery are a versatile band who can sing, write and produce a wide array of music. It also should get fans excited about a full album later on this year.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

After the Burial Evolve On New Record

After the Burial's first two records were decent albums and cemented their blend of deathcore, melodic death metal, progressive metal and metalcore into one aggressive and catchy blend. Their first two records were nearly devoid of clean vocals except Forging a Future Self, their debut, had some sprinkled in. Then in 2010 the band released their opus In Dreams. This album was a little more melodic and had  prominent clean vocals on three songs. While fans weren't too fond of this, this album is what got me into the band.
Their fourth record Wolves Within, features no clean vocals, but it does feature evolution. The band sort of melded all three album's sounds into one on this record. Every song is good but the ones that truly shine go down with some of After the Burials best songs. Single's "Of Fearful Men" and "A Wolf Amongst Ravens" are catchy but also have some melodic moments thrown into their aggressive sound. "Pennyweight" is a fun song that begins with singer Anthony Notarmaso screaming "fuck yeah" in his signature high pitched shrieks. This song takes the band back to their earlier sound.
"Disconnect," "Neo Seoul" and "A Wolf Amongst Ravens" have the band's signature melodic intros before descending into the heavy melodies the band are known for. These songs could all have fit in well on In Dreams.
Singer Anthony Notarmaso's vocals sometimes are a bit much but usually they go well with the rests of the band. Especially the guitarists are skilled and the rifts are catchy and always stuck in your head.
After the Burial have always released good albums and with Wolves Within they prove that they aren't going anywhere for a long time to come.