Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums

Album Review – SiXforNinE / Parallel Universe (2019)

An amazing album of rock and metal music containing nine high-energy compositions overflowing groove and adrenaline, carefully brought forth by four talented musicians hailing from Greece.

It’s time to bang our heads to the groovy and melodic Alternative Metal blasted by SiXforNinE, a four-piece band formed in 2011 in the always fun city of Athens, Greece, who are releasing now in 2019 a brand new and extremely entertaining opus entitled Parallel Universe, a follow-up to their 2015 debut self-titled album being highly recommended for fans of the music by bands like Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. Comprised of founding members Georga Kapa on the guitar, Herc Booze on bass and Pete Outfox on drums, as well as Fotis Benardo (Necromantia, Septicflesh) on vocals, SiXforNinE have been on a roll since their inception, having already shared the stage with renowned acts such as Monster Magnet, Fates Warning, Leprous, and Memory Garden, and with Parallel Universe representing an evolutionary step in their relatively short but already solid career.

Recorded at DevasoundZ Studios in Athens, produced by Fotis Benardo himself, mixed by Paul Pavao (Disturbed, Stone Temple Pilots, Breaking Benjamin), mastered by Tom Baker (Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Mötley Crüe), and featuring a stunning artwork by Vagelis Petikas (Revolver Design), Parallel Universe showcases a very special chemistry between all four band members in each of its nine high-energy rock anthems, dealing with distinct topics such as a galactic travel via astral projection and the story of a refugee hoping for a better future. In other words, you better get ready to rock with SiXforNinE, as the Rock N’ Roll party crafted by those four talented Greek metallers doesn’t seem to have a time to end based on the amount of adrenaline flowing from their new album.

The band begins their feast of mesmerizing and groovy sounds in Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, a lecture in progressiveness by the quartet where Fotis and his Miles Kennedy-inspired vocals walk hand in hand with George’s crisp riffs, not to mention Herc’s rumbling bass lines, followed by the heavier and more progressive Life Devouring Demons, reminding me of some of the incendiary creations by Mastodon. Furthermore, Pete brings endless intricacy with his beats in an awesome fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with the heaviness of Progressive Metal, while Herc is on absolute fire with his metallic bass. And as heavy as high-end Alternative Metal can be, the band explodes our ears with the melodic and vibrant Bullet Off Its Course, a song that could easily be played in any radio station with Fotis once again stealing the spotlight with his passionate vocals.

Then inspired by the music by Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin and other big names of the alternative scene, George slashes his strings beautifully while Pete’s beats bring groove and thunder to the music in Never Ending Road, whereas in More Than Words Can Say the band blends the heaviest elements from Progressive Metal with smoother rockin’ nuances, displaying a powerful job done by George on the guitar as well as Fotis on vocals, overflowing rage and anguish from start to finish. And it’s time to slow things down a bit and enjoy a pensive and whimsical musical journey by SiXforNinE in Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe), where George, Herc and Pete generate an enfolding ambience with their respective instruments, resulting in almost 10 minutes of ethereal passages and piercing sounds. Not only that, George’s guitar solo is a thing of beauty, adding an extra touch of finesse to a fantastic song that flows flawlessly into a catchy ending.

Very intricate and full of breaks and variations, Out of the Blue offers the listener the thunderous sound of the bass lines by Herc nicely complementing Pete’s wicked beats, being at the same time violent and very harmonious and with Fotis’ roars bringing even more stamina to the song’s already gripping vibe. In Sea of Lies we’re able to witness pure Rock N’ Roll flowing through the band’s instruments, sounding tailored for being played at top volume at a rock pub while everyone is enjoying a cold and tasty beer; moreover, George and Pete couldn’t sound more electrifying with their riffs and beats, also presenting the progressiveness that makes their music so compelling. And lastly, the angry bass by Herc ignites the closing tune Meditation Hyperjam, a sonic extravaganza of badass sounds and tones led by George’s heavy riffs while Fotis fires his potent vocals, putting a truly exciting ending to the album.

If you love rock and metal music with high dosages of complexity, groove and electricity, then Parallel Universe, which you can hear in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is the perfect solution to satisfy your craving. Hence, go check what SiXforNinE are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and grab your copy of the album from their own webstore, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. Fotis, George, Herc and Pete did one hell of a job in Parallel Universe, and there’s nothing better to show them our support and appreciation than by rocking like there’s no tomorrow together with this hardworking and amazing band coming from Hellenic lands.

Best moments of the album: Life Devouring Demons, Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) and Sea of Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Never Ending Road.

Released in 2019 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining 6:12
2. Life Devouring Demons 5:52
3. Bullet Off Its Course 5:00
4. Never Ending Road 4:53
5. More Than Words Can Say 5:02
6. Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) 9:16
7. Out of the Blue 5:58
8. Sea of Lies 4:10
9. Meditation Hyperjam 5:12

Band members
Fotis Benardo – vocals
George Kapa – guitars
Herc Booze – bass
Pete Outfox – drums

Album Review – Sharks In Your Mouth / Sacrilegious (2019)

A travel to the year of 1799 in Italy, where an elite group of rich and evil people founded a secret society called “The First Order”, in the form of incendiary Post-Hardcore and Djent.

From Post-Hardcore to Djent, including elements from Melodic Metalcore, Alternative Metal and Deathcore, to name a few, the Ancona, Italy-based band comprised of Andrea Pali on vocals, Valerio Quirini on lead guitar, Daniele Monaldi on the guitar, Diego Nardelli on bass and Enrico Rivetti on drums, collectively known as Sharks In Your Mouth, has never stopped improving their sound and style since their inception in 2010, always in pursuit of the “ultimate sound”. Now in 2019 the band returns with another round of heavy and melodic sounds with their sophomore album Sacrilegious, a follow-up to their 2016 debut opus Promises. Not only that, the album also narrates what the band calls “The Covenant” saga, bringing additional layers to their already dense and aggressive music.

Engineered by Federico Ascari and Sharks In Your Mouth, reamped, mixed and mastered by Federico Ascari at Wavemotion Recordings, and featuring a stylish artwork by Mattia Castiglia, Sacrilegious takes us to the year of 1799 in Italy,  where an elite group of rich and evil people founded a secret society called “The First Order”, possessing an ancient magical book that must be burned to avoid letting them dictate the social and moral laws of the future. A young boy gets caught up in one of their rituals and “The Order” kills him, but not before painting some “black tears” on his face as their tradition. From that you can already have a very good idea of how obscure their lyrics are, which together with the thunderous sounds blasted by their guitars, bass and drums generate a dark and enfolding atmosphere that will please all fans of the genre.

The cinematic intro Black Tears opens the gates of the underworld to the violent The Covenant, where Andrea begins roaring rabidly just the way we like it in Metalcore and Deathcore while Enrico makes sure our heads don’t stop trembling with his beats, resulting in a beyond amazing start to the album. Then Valerio and Daniele shred their axes mercilessly while Diego exhales rage from his metallic bass in the title-track Sacrilegious, presenting acid lyrics that match perfectly with the music (“What we did is sacrilegious / We’ve been fighting against the odds / What we did is sacrilegious / But we had to burn that book / They will give to this world their idols and the illusion of choice / Illusion of choice / Impostors, who will rise and who will fall?  / The Order is born”); and featuring guest musician Daniele Gottardo, who adds his personal touch of evil to the song with a sick guitar solo, we have another bestial Deathcore tune named Dethroned. Furthermore, it’s impressive how somber those guys can sound while at the same time being extremely melodic, with Diego and Enrico never stopping extracting low-tuned, thunderous roars from their instruments while Andrea alternates between clean vocals and demented screams.

In Sinner, an acoustic intro morphs into a crushing Symphonic Metalcore hymn led by Andrea while Diego smashes his bass chords manically, with all symphonic background elements adding a good amount of finesse to the sonority and also sounding very progressive at times, whereas R.I.P., one of the darkest songs of the album, showcases a focused and demonic duo on the guitars, supported by Enrico’s intricate drums and a berserk Andrea on vocals, and also presenting some creepy, obscure passages to give the whole song an extra infernal kick. Keep banging your head and slamming into the pit to the pulverizing As Above So Below, where you will feel Diego’s bass rumbling at the back of your head, providing the listener a fresh and vibrant fusion of more melodic lines and sheer aggression, and venturing through more modernized and radio-friendly lands, the band offers us the fast-paced This Is Gonna Hurt, incorporating elements from Alternative Metal and Rock to their more vicious style.

If Limp Bizkit suddenly turned into a heavier band, Fear Me, Feed Me is how they would sound, with its instrumental pieces being pretty solid as well as Andrea’s growls, bringing tons of rage and progressiveness for our avid ears, although his rap-like vocals don’t work as expected. Keeping their aggressiveness and dementia at a high level, the quintet fires the Melodic Metalcore tune Marked, bringing forward sick, distorted riffs by Valerio and Daniele, not to mention Enrico’s bestial drumming, while Curtain is a short and sweet piano bridge to the epic and visceral Fall (The Covenant Part II), an imposing tune where all rage flowing from drums is complemented by flammable riffs and bass punches while Andrea darkly declaims the song’s poetic lyrics (“I still hear their cry for help / While I paint my black tears on my face / Shadows in the night, trying to resist / Hunted from the ancient creed / All is lost, erased from reality / Paint your black tears / Paint your black tears”).

If you nurture a deep passion for Hardcore, Metalcore and Djent, and if you are constantly searching for new names in the market that can offer you something more than just well-crafted heavy music, you must give Sharks In Your Mouth a chance without a shadow of a doubt. Not only those guys master their instruments, but as already mentioned the theme found in Sacrilegious (available in full on Spotify) is way more flavorful and interesting than your average bands out there. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to those Italian metallers by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and of course by purchasing Sacrilegious from their official webstore or from several other locations like Apple Music and Amazon by clicking HERE, consequently joining the band’s army known as “Covenants” and banging your head like a beast to some high-end Djent made in Italy.

Best moments of the album: The Covenant, Sacrilegious and R.I.P.

Worst moments of the album: Fear Me, Feed Me.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Tears 1:04
2. The Covenant 4:39
3. Sacrilegious 4:12
4. Dethroned (feat. Daniele Gottardo) 4:03
5. Sinner 3:29
6. R.I.P. 3:23
7. As Above So Below 4:08
8. This Is Gonna Hurt 3:43
9. Fear Me, Feed Me 3:43
10. Marked 4:36
11. Curtain 0:23
12. Fall (The Covenant Part II) 4:40

Band members
Andrea Pali – vocals
Valerio Quirini – lead guitar
Daniele Monaldi – guitar
Diego Nardelli – bass
Enrico Rivetti – drums

Guest musician
Daniele Gottardo – guitar solo on “Dethroned”

Album Review – Grenouer / Ambition 999 (2019)

Over 55 minutes of classy and modern rock music showcasing a different side of this talented Russian band, but still keeping their amazing core Alternative Rock and Metal intact.

Offering over 55 minutes of modern and melodic Alternative Metal with several distinct rock elements, Ambition 999, the ninth album in the career of Saint Petersburg, Russia-based act Grenouer, turned out to be a long-term project due to all the re-recording needed until the band reached its desired sound. That resulted into one of the biggest gaps between albums in their career, with nothing more, nothing less than four years separating Ambition 999 from their previous album, Unwanted Today, released in 2015. However, all that wait was definitely worth it as their new album is indeed a fresh addition to their discography, with each one of its 15 songs offering a different approach when compared to the band’s two previous efforts in terms of riff intensity and rapid-fire solos, balancing between new and clichés, double density and marked vocal temperament.

Engineered and recorded by Al Bolo at RDS& Moscow Gates Apartment Studios, Anssi Kippo at Astia-Studio, and Luigi Del Missier at BlackMirror Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Giuseppe “Dualized” Bassi from dysFUNCTION Productions, and featuring a futuristic artwork by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello (Sledgehammer Graphix) and Italian artist Zimon (New Breed Graphic Studio), Ambition 999 feels like a heavier version of bands such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, presenting a more than inspired and electrified band comprised of Andrey Ind on lead vocals, Dmitry Rubanovsky and Alexander Motor on the guitars, Al Bolo on bass and Danny D on drums, and bringing to our avid ears everything we need to have a good time on the road, at a pub, at home, or anywhere else where good rock music is properly appreciated.

Electric waves permeate the air before the band begins blasting their modernized blend of Alternative Rock and Metal in Burnt to the Ground, with highlights to the slashing guitar riffs and solos by Dmitry and Alexander; followed by Nevermind Tomorrow, a song perfect for banging our heads to their riffs and beats while Andrey gives life to its party-like lyrics (“Fast and tight / High heel party night / Tomorrow never knows and never dies / Drinks on me / Any chicks for free? / We’re born to make some noise, so sing with me / Or you’d better shout”), and One Day, another thrilling tune in the same vein as bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Three Days Grace, sounding very melodic and showcasing a passionate performance by Andrey on vocals while Danny D dictates the rhythm with his spot-on beats. Then in Infinite Grace the band adds a good amount of heaviness to their music, getting closer to the musicality by bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson but still keeping their core Alternative Rock intact, also presenting some sick guitar solos for our total delectation, whereas in Medicine Treats No Lies the quintet continues their feast of modern-day rock and metal music, with Al together with Danny D bringing thunder to the music with their respective instruments.

If Cure for the Lonely is even more futuristic and atmospheric, displaying a strong focus on Andrey’s vocals and feeling at times like a hybrid of modern rock music with the electronic and alternative sounds by old school bands like Depeche Mode, Uncommon Faith is a good song for hitting the highway, presenting great sync between the band’s stringed trio and Danny D’s beats, all infused with Hard Rock elements. On the other hand, Back on Track is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, albeit it does bring forward a considerable amount of progressiveness as well as Andrey’s smooth but potent vocals; while Universe of My Heaven sounds very modern and progressive, also bringing some symphonic elements in the background to give it an extra taste. Moreover, Al’s bass sounds as groovy as it can be, while Danny D pounds his drums just the way we like it in good modern Rock N’ Roll. After that, it’s time for Grenouer to take their musicality to even more eccentric lands with the weird, atmospheric and fun Crimson Lines, with highlights to its classy, poetic lyrics (“Read between the crimson lines / Sacred destination / Go behind the scenes of life / Steady irritation / Read between the crimson lines / Go behind the sonic nightmares / Black and white visions in the sky”).

It’s interesting how Grenouer manage to keep their essence while exploring new sounds, which is the case in the almost electronic-dancing tune Chase the Sun, and although the final result is quite entertaining the guitars by both Dmitry and Alexander needed an extra kick for the whole song to work even better. Then melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the introspective Ingenious Care, showcasing smooth vocal lines, complex and serene drums, and featuring guests Chayka Chursina on vocals and Zimon on bass, sounding dark from start to finish and, therefore, sending the desired message by the band. Dangerous Girls takes the band back to a heavier, more pounding sonority, with their guitar duo being on fire as well as Al and his rumbling bass, or in other words, this is a well-balanced hybrid of Progressive and Alternative Metal for admirers of the genre. The second to last blast of Grenouer’s rockin’ sounds comes in the form of Paranormal Star, sounding as whimsical and piercing as its name, placing it as another serious candidate to be part of their live setlists, whereas the last tune from Ambition 999 is a superb acoustic ballad entitled Alone in the Dark, which not only presents beautiful guitars and vocals, but its official video is amazingly obscure and captivating. Put differently, it might not be the usual electrified Grenouer we’re used to, but this somber, pensive side of the band is just as enfolding as their more regular sonority.

What are you waiting for to put your hands on 15 extremely well-crafted and energizing rock songs made in Russia? Simply go to the band’s official BandCamp page to grab your copy of the album, as well as to the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp or webstore, to iTunes or to Amazon, and keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their crisp rock music. As an already established and successful band in the world of heavy music, we can rest assured Grenouer are far from calling it quits, hoping that all of their future releases are just as good as the music found in Ambition 999 and that they proudly keep carrying the flag of Rock N’ Roll wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Nevermind Tomorrow, Medicine Treats No Lies, Crimson Lines and Alone in the Dark.

Worst moments of the album: Back on Track and Chase the Sun.

Released in 2019 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. Burnt to the Ground 3:30
2. Nevermind Tomorrow 3:32
3. One Day 4:15
4. Infinite Grace 4:07
5. Medicine Treats No Lies 3:25
6. Cure for the Lonely 2:37
7. Uncommon Faith 5:13
8. Back on Track 3:41
9. Universe of My Heaven 3:49
10. Crimson Lines 4:16
11. Chase the Sun 3:17
12. Ingenious Care 3:24
13. Dangerous Girls 4:08
14. Paranormal Star 3:10
15. Alone in the Dark 3:20

Band members
Andrey Ind – lead vocals
Dmitry Rubanovsky – guitars
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums

Guest musicians
Chayka Chursina – female vocals on “Ingenious Care”
Zimon – bass on “Ingenious Care”

Concert Review – Godsmack & Volbeat (Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON, 05/10/2019)

And the city of Ottawa was more than ready to rumble with two of the best bands of the modern Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll scene.

OPENING ACT: Stitched Up Heart

Although my drive from Toronto to Ottawa on Thursday was a complete shit due to the nasty rain and all the trucks spraying tons of water on my windshield, that didn’t turn my energy level down not even a bit for the concert that was about to happen on Friday. I was really pumped to see what’s probably the best modern Rock N’ Roll bands available out there, the almighty Volbeat and the incendiary Godsmack, kicking some serious ass on stage at Richcraft Live (I honestly have no idea what that name means) at the Canadian Tire Centre. It was my first time at that venue and I must say it’s indeed a great place to watch a concert or a sports event, but unfortunately getting there is not that easy unless you drive, take a taxi or Uber to the venue, which ends up inflating the parking costs considerably.

Anyway, fans were still arriving at the venue when Los Angeles-based Hard Rock act STITCHED UP HEART began their short but effective performance, spearheaded by the beautiful Mixi on vocals. If you have no idea about what type of music Stitched Up Heart play, let’s say it’s a fusion of the contemporary Hard Rock played by Godsmack with Evanescence and Marilyn Manson, and the final result is very entertaining. It was a beyond solid warm-up for the main attractions of the night, and a very good welcome card from the band to us fans of rock music here in Canada, as I don’t actually remember seeing them anywhere around here before this tour opening for Volbeat and Godsmack. In other words, go to their official website for more information about the band, where they’re playing, where to buy their music, and so on, as those guys (and girl, of course) are definitely worth a shot.

Setlist
This Skin
Warrior
Catch Me When I Fall
Darkness
Straightjacket
Finally Free
Lost (feat. Sully Erna)

Band members
Mixi – vocals
Merritt – guitar
Randy – bass
Decker – drums 

VOLBEAT

After a short break, and with the Canadian Tire Centre already occupied by thousands of fans from different parts of Canada and the United States, it was time for Danish rockers VOLBEAT to bring to Ottawa their undisputed Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances, proving once again that Copenhagen-based quartet is not one of the biggest names in the current Rock N’ Roll scene in vain. Still promoting their 2016 album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, but just about to release a brand new album (for our total delight), the band comprised of Michael Poulsen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, Kaspar Boye Larsen on bass, and Jon Larsen on drums set the venue on fire with their fast and melodic riffs and beats, and of course, endless electricity (despite the fact that Mr. Poulsen was visibly fighting some sort of cold or flu).

From the first few notes from the excellent The Devil’s Bleeding Crown to the closing moments from the already classic Still Counting, Volbeat delivered what’s expected from them, inspiring all fans from the floor section to ignite some fun (and furious) circle pits, especially during their most metallic songs such as A Warrior’s Call, 16 Dollars, Doc Holliday and Seal the Deal. Also, I think I’ve already mentioned this before, but it’s always impressive to witness how powerful and precise Mr. Caggiano is on the guitar, elevating the band’s sonority to new heights since entering the band in 2013. In addition, one song that I was extremely happy they played was Hallelujah Goat, one of my favorite Volbeat songs of all time due to its energy and heaviness, potentialized by Rob’s amazing technique and feeling. And before I forget, the band also played a brand new song for the first time ever in Ottawa, the 40-second Punk Rock tune Parasite, which albeit being extremely short it was well received by all fans who were paying attention at the moment, because you know, 40 seconds are not enough not even for a quick bathroom break. In a nutshell, I know that I just saw Volbeat live and that I’ll see them again with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth soon here in Toronto, but they’re so good live I cannot wait, and besides, their concerts are never long enough for them to play all of their classics.

Setlist
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue (with Ring of Fire intro)
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Let It Burn
Black Rose
Parasite
16 Dollars
Dead but Rising
Fallen
Hallelujah Goat
Marie Laveau
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

GODSMACK

It was close to 9:45pm when the lights went out, a fun mashup of classic rock songs started playing from the amps, and finally GODSMACK hit the stage with their unique mix of Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal. I confess I don’t think their 2018 album When Legends Rise is one of their best efforts to date; quite the contrary, it’s relatively weak compared for example to their previous album, the fantastic 1000hp, released in 2014, but Sully Erna and his henchmen are so amazing in what they do they managed to turn all of the songs they played from their new album, those being When Legends Rise, Say My Name, Unforgettable, Under Your Scars and Bulletproof, into truly amazing moments of their performance. By the way, as explained by Sully during the concert, inspired by their own song Under Your Scars, Godsmack have recently founded The Scars Foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. Needless to say, donate and show your support to such important and noble cause.

Getting back to the concert, I have to say that even if they played bad music the whole thing would still have been at least great, as all the fire and other special effects on stage added a lot of energy to their performance. But, of course, Godsmack do not play bad music, and fantastic songs like 1000hp (my favorite of the night), Cryin’ Like a Bitch and Whatever put a huge smile on the faces of every single fan watching their concert. Furthermore, there were three very distinct moments that let’s say “surprised” most fans due to their uniqueness, those being their dark and enthralling performance of their all-time hit Voodoo, the interesting Batalla De Los Tambores (or “battle of the drums”, if you know nothing in Spanish) between Sully and the extremely talented drummer Shannon Larkin, and the Rock N’ Roll party established on stage when Rob Caggiano and the entire Stitched Up Heart joined them on stage for a cover version of AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell.

In the end, after Godsmack played their heavier-than-hell hit I Stand Alone, all fans left the Canadian Tire Centre extremely satisfied, hoping the band doesn’t take another abysmal time to return to Canadian soil. On the other hand, if you live in Canada and missed Godsmack, I feel really sorry for your soul. A band like that is always busy, always touring the world, and they don’t have a lot of empty spot to fill out with Canadian dates. Well, don’t cry like a bitch if you missed it, simply stay tuned to their upcoming tours and do like the rockin’ citizens from Ottawa, whenever you hear the words “Volbeat” or “Godsmack”, put on your black shirt, you leather jacket and get ready to rumble like there’s no tomorrow with one of the best and most electrifying bands of the not-so-new generation of rock and metal music.

Setlist
When Legends Rise
1000hp
Say My Name
Keep Away (Moon Baby Outro)
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Awake
Unforgettable
Something Different
Voodoo
Batalla De Los Tambores
Whatever

Encore:
Under Your Scars
Bulletproof
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
I Stand Alone

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Concert Review – Disturbed (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 03/04/2019)

David Draiman and his henchmen took Toronto by storm once again, providing us all a touching and memorable night of heavy music, life and friendship.

OPENING ACTS: Three Days Grace

Monday night in Toronto was damn cold, windy and, even if it was sunny and hot, it was still Monday. However, there’s nothing better than a good rock and metal concert to warm us up on such a boring day, right? That’s exactly what over 20,000 fans got at the now named Scotiabank Arena (formerly known as Air Canada Centre) during the Disturbed: Evolution Tour, featuring Three Days Grace as the opening act and, obviously, Disturbed, spearheaded by the iconic David Draiman. I was surprised with the amount of very young people at the venue, proving that rock music is far from being done (and I’ll talk more about it later), and not even that annoying bitterly cold wind was capable of stopping us all to raise our fists in the air to one of the most important bands in the history of Alternative Metal.

I must confess I’ve never paid too much attention to THREE DAYS GRACE, mainly because their music is not my cup of tea, sounding way too radio-friendly at times. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their performance, though, as those Toronto-based rockers put on a very energetic and fun concert, still promoting their 2018 album titled Outsider. Frontman Matt Walst didn’t stop running around and jumping up and down for a single second, demanding the audience to sing along with him and to ignite some circle pits. A few songs stood out from their setlist, like The Good Life, Pain, Riot and, of course, their biggest hit I Hate Everything About You, all working as a good warm-up for the main attraction of the night. In other words, if a fan of Thrash, Death and Black Metal like me enjoyed their show, I can imagine how happy they made their diehard fans playing in their hometown.

Setlist
Intro (Livin’ On a Prayer)
The Mountain
Home
The Good Life
Pain
Infra-Red
Painkiller
Break
Right Left Wrong
I Hate Everything About You
Animal I Have Become (with “Seven Nation Army” interlude)
Never Too Late
Riot

Band members
Matt Walst – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Barry Stock – lead guitar
Brad Walst – bass, backing vocals
Neil Sanderson – drums, keyboards, backing vocals 

DISTURBED

It was around 8:50pm when the lights went off and the humongous screen at the back of the stage started showing scenes from several DISTURBED concerts through the years, also presenting some rebellious and inspiring messages to the crowd, and that video worked flawlessly to pump up every single person at the venue for the opening track Are You Ready, from their 2018 album Evolution (which is definitely not their best effort, but it still has some very good moments, I might say). And although the whole concert might not have been as electrifying as their latest performance in the city in 2016 with Breaking Benjamin while promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (partially due to the extreme cold outside, as their 2016 show was outdoors in the middle of the summer), David & Co. kicked ass with a very solid and diversified setlist, proving once again why they’re still relevant after all those years on the road.

It was indeed a feast of classic tunes from the band, with crushing hymns like Stupify (where David gave a short speech about how the media wants us to believe we’re divided, when in fact we’re all united no matter our color, race, gender or sexual orientation), Voices, Ten Thousand Fists and their cover version for Genesis’ Land of Confusion (my favorite of the night, by the way) inspiring everyone to jump, headbang, mosh and sing together with the quartet. Dan Donegan, John Moyer and Mike Wengren were on fire with their instruments, providing David everything he needed to blast his unparalleled screams. Furthermore, despite the biggest part of their setlist being comprised of heavy songs, it was when they played their ballads that they truly connected with the audience, and that happened for a very simple and delicate reason. It was visible that all four members of the band were very sad and touched by the death of their longtime friend Keith Flint, the wicked frontman for British electronic music trailblazers The Prodigy, who committed suicide at the age of 49 at his home in Essex earlier that same day, turning the concert in Toronto something very special for the entire band.

When they played Hold On to Memories on the main stage, showing photos and images of their entire career including some pictures and old footage with their friends Chester Bennington (from Linkin Park, who also committed suicide in 2017) and the unparalleled Pantera brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, who died in 2004 and 2018, respectively, it was already a memorable moment for everyone at the venue, a celebration of life and friendship by Disturbed, but it was when they moved to the smaller acoustic stage at the back of the floor section to play A Reason to Fight and Watch You Burn that we could clearly see a lot of tears falling down from their eyes. David took some time to give a very meaningful speech about how depression is not something people choose to have, but a very serious disease that can consume even the most famous and richest people on the planet, dedicating that part of the show to Keith Flint just like what he had done a week before remembering the lives of Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Chester Benington during their concert in New York. There are (several) other people out there either suffering from depression or who had already reached the unfortunate point of suicide, like the talented Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus who passed away in 2018, and as David said we need to reach out to those in need to win this battle against such horrendous illness.

The other three unforgettable moments for me (and for most people at the venue) were first and foremost their already classic tribute to Simon & Garfunkel with their flawless version for their ballad The Sound of Silence, the insane fire on stage during Inside the Fire (for obvious reasons), and the amazing kids with their parents on stage to celebrate rock music during The Light, proving once and for all as David said that rock is not dead like the media enjoys “vomiting” in our faces every single day. And lastly, as the icing on the cake, how about two of my all-time favorite Disturbed songs, the superb Stricken and the demented Down With the Sickness, which ignited a big, fun and frantic circle pit that took over a significant part of the central area of the floor section? That’s what good rock and metal music is all about, right? Having a good time with your loved ones, enjoying a nice beer while watching a great band like Disturbed perform, and resting assured that while bands like Disturbed are alive and kicking, our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never, ever die.

Setlist
Are You Ready
Prayer
The Vengeful One
The Animal
Stupify
Voices
Land of Confusion (Genesis cover)
Hold On to Memories
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
A Reason to Fight
Watch You Burn
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Indestructible
Inside the Fire

Encore:
The Light
Stricken
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

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Album Review – DeeVer / You Need This (2019)

If you also think Rock N’ Roll is not dead and you enjoy all modern shapes and forms of the genre, you definitely need this album made in the UK.

Hailing from Darlington, a large market town in County Durham, in North East England, Deever are a modern Hard Rock band with Heavy Metal influences who are making a name for themselves in their homeland, delivering an onslaught of aggressive riffs and captivating hooks with a distinct British edge highly recommended for fans of Foo Fighters, Muse, Shinedown and several other bands that play a heavier version of our good old Rock N’ Roll. Now in 2019 it’s time for vocalist and guitarist Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor (from Inglorious) together with his henchmen Stevie Stoker on the guitar, Phil Appleton on bass and Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins on drums to show us what they got with their debut album, titled You Need This, all in the name of rock and metal music.

“I love the classics when it comes to rock music, and I’ll always appreciate my time with Inglorious. All of the guys are extremely talented musicians and we shared some things most people don’t get the opportunity to do. Things change though, and I knew I wanted to do something different that suited me, something more contemporary based musically. Now I’m in a band back home with some of my best mates, hammering out the hard stuff and having a great time doing so. It’s reminded me of all the reasons why I wanted to do music in the first place! We all love what we are doing and are very excited for where DeeVer is heading,” commented Billy about his new band and what to expect when you hit play and let the music found in You Need This invade your senses.

Rev up your engines to the sound of the dirty riffs by Billy and Stevie, who lead a Stoner Metal and Hard Rock onrush of sounds titled Fire At Will, a song perfect for sharing a beer with your friends at a rock n’ roll pub while Higgy pounds his drums like a beast. Then Phil shakes the foundations of the earth with his groovy bass, igniting another modern and vibrant rockin’ party entitled All Come Running, with its guitars and bass walking hand in hand, therefore generating a fun atmosphere for our total delight; and it’s Phil who once again kicks things off in the also thrilling Alright, a well-balanced and dense mix of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll infused with Southern Rock, Grunge and even Progressive Metal nuances, or in other words, a born-to-be-a-radio-hit beautifully crafted by the quartet.

Back Down presents hints of Glam and Hair Metal but without sounding cheesy at all; quite the contrary, it’s a vibrant feast of razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats perfect for dancing the night away, with Billy kicking some ass with his spot-on vocals, whereas in Waves the band speeds things up a bit, even bringing elements from Punk Rock to their sound, with Billy, Stevie and Phil being on fire with their stringed weapons while Higgy keeps the energy level truly high through his precise beats. And the party goes on with Parachute, where a headbanging start gradually morphs into a more melodic musicality, alternating between heavier and more serene passages (which is also reflected in Billy’s vocals), getting too radio-friendly at times but still very enjoyable; and back to a more aggressive, rockin’ attitude, the band offers our avid ears the fast and punk-ish Only Enemy, where Billy’s vocals get an amazing support from the backing vocals by the rest of the band, while the song’s slashing riffs and thunderous bass punches will pierce you head, reaching deep inside your mind.

Drinking from the fountain of Alternative Rock and Metal, Phil and Higgy build a rumbling background for Billy and Stevie to attack with their stringed weapons in We Are, setting the tone for the next tune, simply titled Jim, a fast-paced, straightforward Rock N’ Roll composition tailored for fans of bands like foo Fighters and Breaking Benjamin where the sound of guitars nicely complements the precise vocals by Billy. Put differently, it could easily be part of the soundtrack of any teen or rock n’ roll movie in my humble opinion. Lastly, I Am The Cavalry, the closing song of the album, brings more of the band’s modern-day Hard Rock, being led by Higgy’s potent beats while the rest of the band continues to extract sheer electricity and thunder from their strings.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of both old school and contemporary rock music, as the title itself already says, “you need this” album in your collection, and in order to grab your copy of such electrifying display of modern-day heavy music simply go to the band’s Big Cartel, to iTunes or to Amazon, and show your support to DeeVer by following them on Facebook and by listening to their music on Spotify. Billy and the boys did an amazing job in You Need This, proving one more time that as long as there are people out there who love, live and breathe rock and meta; like the guys from DeeVer, Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: All Come Running, Back Down and Only Enemy.

Worst moments of the album: Parachute.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Fire At Will 3:47
2. All Come Running 3:45
3. Alright 3:44
4. Back Down 3:44
5. Waves 3:24
6. Parachute 3:44
7. Only Enemy 3:30
8. We Are 3:26
9. Jim 3:33
10. I Am The Cavalry 3:50

Bonus track
11. Only Enemy (Radio Edit) 3:27

Band members
Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor – vocals, guitar
Stevie Stoker – guitar, vocals
Phil Appleton – bass, vocals
Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins – drums

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Motus Octo (2018)

Enjoy the “eight movements” of modern-day rock music presented by this talented Cambridge, England-based Alternative Rock and Metal squad.

If you’re not only a fan of all the aggressiveness and speed of more extreme forms of metal music, but also an admirer of the melodious and gentle waves of Alternative Rock and Metal, you’ll be extremely pleased to know that Cambridge, England-based alternative rockers Bouquet of Dead Crows are finally back after three long years with a brand new album  titled Motus Octo, the follow-up to their 2015 debut album Of The Night. The title, referring to the fact that there are eight tracks on the album, essentially means “eight movements”, or eight emotions, and that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the entire album, with each of its tracks awakening different emotions and reactions from deep inside your heart and mind.

Featuring a beautiful packaging designed by Stewart Harris Designs, Motus Octo is a very different beast to the band’s previous work, moving into more of a progressive direction but still showcasing all the characteristics that made people enjoy their first album, such as the huge wall-of-sound guitar riffs by Neil Bruce, the pounding bass lines by Graeme Clarke and the bat-shit drumming by Andrew Coxall, all sitting beautifully underneath vocalist Antoinette Cooper’s soaring vocals. Furthermore, the quartet goes from the heavier waves of Alternative Metal to the charm of British Rock and the melancholy of Blues, extracting crisp and vibrant sounds from their instruments throughout the entire album, keeping us hooked on their music and always eager for more.

Distorted, whimsical waves ignite the fun Faultlines, before Graeme and Andrew come crushing with their bass lines and beats respectively in a modern display of British Rock infused with alternative elements from bands like Garbage and Hole, while Neil slams and slashes his guitar mercilessly. And their music gets even more piercing and rumbling in The Devil’s in the Detail, with the beautiful voice by Antoinette leading the band in this Alternative Rock feast while Neil fires his classic solos, presenting hints of Ska and traditional Rock N’ Roll; followed by No Tomorrow, a song perfect for enjoying a nice and relaxed road trip with your loved ones, once again showcasing an inspired Antoinette on vocals and a precise and groovy Andrew on drums. Then Bouquet of Dead Crows deliver an introspective and enfolding ballad titled Slow Motion Ghosts, where all band members provide Antoinette all she needs to thrive, exhaling passion and delicacy through her vocals until the music gently fades away.

Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) contains some very welcome elements from the music by AC/DC blended with contemporary Rock N’ Roll and even Stoner Rock, not to mention how inspired Neil is with his stylish riffs and solos, while Andrew pounds his drums with tons of precision, therefore turning it into one of the best songs of the album. In Cold Inside, the band slows things down a bit in another gentle rock ballad, with highlights to the solid synchronicity between Neil and Graeme with their strings, getting considerably heavier at times in special when Neil is firing his guitar solos; whereas in Incessant Desire things get groovier, faster and heavier, which obviously translates into awesomeness, being highly inspired by classic Ska and Rock N’ Roll music from the 90’s, spearheaded by Neil and Andrew while Antoinette sounds extremely sexy with her fiery vocal lines. And lastly we have Undone, bringing forward an eerie intro to the thunderous sounds of Graeme’s bass punches and the passionate vocals by Antoinette, evolving into a Stoner Rock extravaganza perfect for headbanging while enjoying a cold beer (or even a strip-tease, it’s up to you), until wicked noises put an end to the song and, obviously, to the entire album.

As you already know, all you need to do to keep in touch with Bouquet of Dead Crows and stay informed about their plans for the future, tour dates and other shenanigans is follow them on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel, but of course if you want to show your true support to one of the most promising names from the current British Rock scene, you should definitely purchase your copy of Motus Octo from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, as well as from the band’s own webstore in CD or vinyl. In addition, in order to celebrate the release of Motus Octo, the band will be playing a special launch gig at The Blue Moon  in Cambridge on November 24, where they’ll play the full album live. If you’re going to be around the Cambridge area that day, why not joining Antoinette, Neil & Co. for a night of kick-ass rock music accompanied by good food, cold beer and nice people? You can buy your ticket HERE, get ready to rock, and show your “eight movements” on the dance floor, how about that? That’s the way our good old Rock N’ Roll should always be enjoyed, and Motus Octo is the perfect soundtrack for that.

Best moments of the album: The Devil’s in the Detail, Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) and Incessant Desire.

Worst moments of the album: Cold Inside.

Released in 2018 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Faultlines 7:14
2. The Devil’s in the Detail 3:29
3. No Tomorrow 3:56
4. Slow Motion Ghosts 5:42
5. Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) 3:49
6. Cold Inside 8:37
7. Incessant Desire 3:40
8. Undone 6:14

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Graeme Clarke – bass
Andrew Coxall – drums

Album Review – Meka Nism / The War Inside EP (2018)

One of the most promising new names of the Orlando metal scene strikes again with an electrifying EP of modern-day Alternative Rock and Metal.

Formed back in 2006 under the name of Meka Nism and Her Rusty Tears, Orlando-based Alternative Metal act Meka Nism strikes again with a brand new EP titled The War Inside, following the same pattern of modern and metallic sounds from their three previous releases, those being their 2016 live album Live From the Machine,  the 2015 EP The Shift, and their 2013 debut EP The Dance at the End of the World, not to mention the 2006 album Mad to Love (released under the band’s original name).  Having shared the stage with heavyweight bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Sevendust, Hellyeah and Otep, among others, along with festival appearances at Kink Festival (Orlando, Florida), SXSW (Austin, Texas) and Breeding Festival (Germany), and named Orlando’s #1 Metal Band by Orlando Weekly in 2016, Meka Nism continue to carve their name in the scene, solidifying the band as one of the most interesting new names in Alternative Rock and Metal.

Comprised of vocalist Ms. Meka Nism (or simply Meka), who by the way was the former guitar player for Orlando punk legends Dirty Barby and Angel Autopsy, guitarists Bobby Keller and Danny Arrieta, bassist Jarret Robinson, keyboardist Jay Adkisson and drummer Nick Colvin, Meka Nism offer in The War Inside five distinct songs of passion and hatred, war and peace, sanity and madness, all embraced by the band’s modern and captivating sonority and led by Meka’s powerful vocals. If you’re searching for a nice female-fronted alternative in modern metal music, Meka Nism have all it takes to captivate your senses, with the music found in The War Inside being the perfect depiction of what this American six-piece squad is capable of.

The smooth keys by Jay Adkisson ignite the melodic and fresh title-track The War Inside, where Bobby and Danny are in total sync with their electrified riffs while Meka beautifully declaims the song’s passionate words (“Fighting Through the War Inside / Reaching from the chaos / Wait for me, I’ll wait for you / Nothing can keep us apart / Wait for me, I will find you!”). Less modernized and alternative, These Years of Silent Screams leans towards more traditional Heavy Metal, a neck-breaking tune by Meka Nism with the band’s eccentric frontwoman showcasing an amazing vocal performance. Then it’s time to slam into the pit together with the band in Trailblazer, led by the potent and precise drums by Nick, alternating between heavier moments and lighter, inspiring parts. Moreover, both guitars come slashing our skin mercilessly, while Meka thrives with both her demented growls and her clean vocals; and the keys by Jay help build a soothing ambience in Arrows of Alchemy, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jarret in a semi-ballad that will please fans of the genre and that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll radio show, ending in a classy and touching way. And lastly, Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) is another song that begins as a heavy ballad highlighting Meka’s smooth voice and Jay’s enfolding piano notes, evolving into a heavier but still melancholic sonority before its poetic ending to the voice of Meka.

You can take a detailed listen at The War Inside on Spotify, follow Meka Nism on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase the EP from their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby. After listening to The War Inside, it will become clear to you as to why Meka Nism were chosen the best metal band based in Orlando by Orlando Weekly a couple of years ago, pointing to a bright future ahead for the band’s red-haired shaman and her loyal bandmates and leaving us eager for more of their music (and perhaps their first full-length album) in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trailblazer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. The War Inside 4:49
2. These Years of Silent Screams 3:32
3. Trailblazer 4:32
4. Arrows of Alchemy 5:22
5. Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) 4:03

Band members
Ms. Meka Nism (Meka) – vocals
Bobby Keller – lead guitar
Danny Arrieta – rhythm guitar
Jarret Robinson – bass
Jay Adkisson – keys
Nick Colvin – drums

Album Review – Godsmack / When Legends Rise (2018)

A rollercoaster of good and bad moments in the band’s first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound.

Almost four years after the release of the incendiary 1000hp, American Alternative Rock/Metal icons Godsmack are back in action with When Legends Rise, the seventh studio album in their solid career, and their first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound. And when I say “exaggeratedly radio-friendly” I’m not exaggerating (not sure if I’m allowed to use that word and its variations so many times in just a couple of lines), because not only When Legends Rise doesn’t bring the same horsepower, rage and heaviness of 1000hp, but it sounds and feels way too mellow and generic compared to everything they’ve already released since their inception.

As early as 2015, frontman and guitarist Sully Erna spoke of his will to create a new sound for Godsmack in their next album, later describing the album in 2017 as a “reinvention” for the band, as a “new chapter” juxtaposed against older albums, of which he described as “vintage classic Godsmack”. Let’s say he succeeded and failed miserably at the same time, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of the band or if you’ve never heard of them before, as soon as you finish listening to the 11 tracks in When Legends Rise you won’t be able to tell if it was a good or bad experience so many highs and lows the entire album has. As a matter of fact, I guess if you follow Godsmack from the very beginning, the lowest moments of the album will make you feel extremely disappointed with this “new direction” chosen by Sully and his henchmen.

The tribal-like beats by Shannon Larkin kick off the best and most metal song of the entire album, the title-track When Legends Rise, which despite not being a masterpiece, it’s indeed a catchy and entertaining song led by the unique vocals by Sully, sounding as radio-friendly as the band wants but still bringing some of their old school aggressiveness. Then we have Bulletproof (if you’re a regular radio listener you might have heard it a billion times already), which is not that bad but with potential to be a lot better (and by that I mean heavier), with bassist Robbie Merrill doing a very good job in keeping the atmosphere dense and rumbling; followed by Unforgettable, probably the cheesiest song ever written by Godsmack, sounding way too happy for my taste and with the support choir by The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir being plain boring. Well, as I’ve mentioned a thousand times in this webzine, I hate generic choirs.

Every Part of Me presents hints of the sounding from their early days, especially through the melodious guitar lines by Tony Rombola, resulting in a very decent song that reminds us all of the potential Godsmack is throwing away by trying to sound more mainstream than they should, while Take It to the Edge sounds quite similar to its predecessor, but with heavier and more piercing guitar and bass lines. Furthermore, it’s good to hear Sully screaming and sounding a little angrier, and albeit this is not their classic Alternative Metal it can be considered something like a well-crafted version of modern-day Hard Rock. After that interesting sequence of heavy tunes the band offers us the ballad Under Your Scars, and although I’ve complained about almost every song so far I must admit this is indeed a good one, mainly due to the beautiful job done by guest violinist Zvezdelina Haltakova and guest cellist Irina Chirkova. And in Someday, after a not-so-exciting start the music evolves to a harder but still generic sonority that goes on for too long, ruining what could have been a good Hard Rock song. In addition, a weak song such as this would have benefited a lot from a guitar solo, something the whole album lacks by the way, and something that really started to bother me after a few listens.

And the “genericism” found in When Legends Rise goes on in Just One Time, even with Robbie and Shannon bringing some decent groove to the music, saving it from being a total failure. Then we have the excellent Say My Name, proving that when Sully and his crew speed up their pace and deliver stronger, more austere lyrics, they sound a billion times better. Hence, together with the opening track, this is by far one of the best songs of the album, presenting flammable Rock N’ Roll guitar riffs and rhythmic beats, which unfortunately cannot be said about Let It Out, another so-so creation alternating between heavier moments and very bland passages. It might once again sound good on the radio for the average listener, but definitely not for Rock N’ Roll fans, with the biggest issue for me being that the sound of both guitars is really low, or even worse, almost nonexistent. Furthermore, what’s also very irritating in the entire album is that there are moments like the closing song Eye of the Storm where a very promising start morphs into tasteless rock music; however, the more aggressive pieces of the song save it from total damnation, not to mention that we finally have a guitar solo added to it.

In the end, after When Legends Rise (available for a full listen on Spotify), we have to agree with this article from the online publication The Top Tens listing Godsmack as one of the top 10 bands that aren’t metal according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, together with names such as Avenged Sevelfold, Disturbed, Korn and Rage Against The Machine, but at least those bands still deliver a significant amount of rage and rebelliousness through their music, as opposed to what Godsmack (unfortunately) did in their new album. And if that toned-down version of Hard Rock is the direction Sully Erna really wants to take from now on with his band to reach a “broader audience”, well, good luck with that. I’ll personally stick to their more vibrant material from Godsmack, Awake and 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: When Legends Rise, Take It to the Edge and Say My Name.

Worst moments of the album: Bulletproof, Unforgettable, Someday and Let It Out.

Released in 2018 Universal Music

Track listing
1. When Legends Rise 2:52
2. Bulletproof 2:57
3. Unforgettable 3:28
4. Every Part of Me 3:20
5. Take It to the Edge 3:15
6. Under Your Scars 3:51
7. Someday 4:44
8. Just One Time 3:09
9. Say My Name 3:38
10. Let It Out 3:41
11. Eye of the Storm 3:21

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Guest musicians
Zvezdelina Haltakova – violin on “Under Your Scars”
Irina Chirkova – cello on “Under Your Scars”
The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir – additional vocals on “Unforgettable”