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 – Trivium / The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams. That’s the formula for best metal album of the year.

Finally, after two somewhat controversial albums (the technically excellent but not unanimous Vengeance Falls, from 2013, and the extremely tiresome Silence In The Snow, from 2015), Orlando-based Heavy Metal fighters Trivium are back on track with what’s probably going to be the best metal album for most critics and fans worldwide, the sharp, dynamic and vibrant The Sin and the Sentence. This amazing release (the eight studio album in their solid career) features everything you learned to love in the music by Trivium, such as fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics and, above all, the return of the band’s mastermind Matt Heafy’s screaming vocals, by far the most important element that makes The Sin and the Sentence a million light-years better than Silence In The Snow.

Not only Matt’s enraged growls are back, but it seems that the band has at long last found the perfect drummer for their music, the talented Alex Bent (Battlecross, Brain Drill, Dragonlord), who replaced drummer Paul Wandtke, and as soon as you hit play you’ll be able to clearly see the humongous difference Alex makes to their sound. In addition, another interesting thing in The Sin and the Sentence is that the album wasn’t going to be called this way if it wasn’t for the cover art and design done by Matt’s wife, Ashley Heafy, with whom he’s married since January 2010. In a recent interview, Matt stated that the working title for the album was The Revanchist and that the album was going to have gold and neon colors; however, those plans were changed once Ashley presented the band with symbols for each accompanying song, and from there The Sin and the Sentence was born.

The opening track, The Sin and the Sentence, kicks off in full force, with newcomer Alex showing us all the wonders a high-skilled drummer can do to a band. This born-to-be-a-classic tune is extremely addictive and as heavy as hell, with an inspired (and recovered) Matt simply kicking fuckin’ ass on vocals; and it seems that no matter how their music sounds, Matt & Co. definitely know how to craft beautiful lyrics (“I saw the dagger eyes staring back at me / I knew I’d never have a chance to bleed / Guilty, but in the sight of fallen men / They bury you before you speak / (The sin and the sentence)”). Then blending Death, Groove, Progressive and even Black Metal in an aggressive but very melodic manner, Beyond Oblivion, a technical tune that lives up to the band’s legacy, showcases fun, uprising backing vocals in sync with the rumbling sound of the bass by Paolo Gregoletto, not to mention their once again hypnotizing lyrics (“These shadows sleep so soundly / Appalled, he now averts his eyes / Disgraced, he felt so empty / Entrusting us with our demise”). And Other Worlds feels closer to what they did in the albums In Waves and Silence in the Snow by focusing on the clean vocals by Matt, while Corey Beaulieu and Matt deliver sharp and very harmonious guitar lines and solos, presenting hints of modern Hard Rock in its rhythm.

The second single of the album, The Heart from Your Hate, is another great example of how Trivium can adapt from being a truly heavy machine to a more radio-friendly band, presenting a catchy chorus that goes along really well with the song’s main riff; whereas Betrayer can be considered the most visceral and electrifying of all tracks in the album, a full-bodied, intricate composition that brings several elements from the band’s first (and more ferocious) albums. Furthermore, do you also think the guitars sound a lot like the classic riffage by Black Metal titans Emperor, one of Matt’s favorite bands of all time? Anyway, in The Wretchedness Inside, a song to bang your head like a maniac, Paolo sounds thunderous on bass, with the song’s overall rhythm reminding me of the most recent albums by Slipknot mixed with Trivium’s In Waves sounding. And, as usual, Matt provides us another blast of top-notch lyrics (“Submerged in dirt but it was never enough / To quell the fire in the back of my lungs / My bones are aching and my head is a mess / They said to run but I’m obsessed with the madness”). As a side note, this song was actually taken from a demo Matt ghostwrote for a different band in 2014; the song was never used though, so Trivium simply re-recorded it for The Sin and the Sentence. The following track, titled Endless Night, feels like some songs from Vengeance Falls, again with a higher focus on Matt’s clean vocals, also bringing hints of Hard Rock to their heavy sonority. Moreover, the sound of bass guitar, which by the way is simply fantastic the whole album, ends up boosting the impact of this specific tune considerably.

Sever the Hand is a first-class composition that can be divided in two distinct pieces, the first presenting a more melodic, smoother musicality, while the second brings all Trivium’s fury, in special the precise beats by Alex, the demonic riffage by Matt and Corey, and Matt’s sick growling. More obscure but still heavy and metallic, Beauty in the Sorrow displays gripping guitars by Matt and Corey (as well as one of the best guitar solos of the whole album), again bringing hints of traditional Black Metal in its riffs; whereas The Revanchist, one of Trivium’s most progressive songs of their past few albums and the longest in The Sin and the Sentence, brings forward powerful, metallic bass lines that will punch you in the head while Matt tells the story in a solid and entertaining manner, not to mention how Alex yet again steals the spotlight with his bestial, rhythmic drumming. Lastly, Thrown into the Fire is a song that showcases all elements from most of Trivium’s phases, not to mention how superb Matt’s screams sound. With the insane beats by Alex dictating the song’s rhythm, the final result is furious and harmonious just the way we love it, ending this awesome album in a brutal, vile and piercing way.

After listening to The Sin and the Sentence, do you also agree with me it will most probably be the best metal album of 2017? Let’s face it, there are tons of amazing albums launched this year, like the new ones from Kreator, Mastodon and Accept, but the new installment by Trivium is by far the most complete, creative and exciting of all (at least for me). Well, even if you think another album (or maybe albums) is better than The Sin and the Sentence, it’s still worth the investment, so go grab your favorite version of it at the Warner Music webstore, and don’t miss Matt & Co. when they take your city by storm in the coming months. And, obviously, let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going for years to come in the same awesome vein as they just delivered us all with The Sin and the Sentence.

Best moments of the album: The Sin and the Sentence, Betrayer, Sever the Hand and Thrown into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Sin and the Sentence 6:23
2. Beyond Oblivion 5:17
3. Other Worlds 4:50
4. The Heart from Your Hate 4:04
5. Betrayer 5:27
6. The Wretchedness Inside 5:32
7. Endless Night 3:38
8. Sever the Hand 5:26
9. Beauty in the Sorrow 4:31
10. The Revanchist 7:17
11. Thrown into the Fire 5:29

Japanese Edition bonus track
12. Pillars of Serpents ’17 (re-recorded version) 5:03

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – The Glorious Rebellion / Euphoric EP (2016)

Long live the filthy, rowdy and uncompromised Sludge Rock and Metal brought forward by Mr. Billy Myers III and his depraved crew.

Rating5

Glorious rebellion euphoricNineteen fuckin’ minutes. This is all that American Sludge Rock/Metal act The Glorious Rebellion needs to get into your head and crush your brain with the noisy and electrifying music found in their brand new release entitled Euphoric, a 6-track EP with witty song names, a badass attitude and large doses of distorted riffs and grumpy grunts, all led by the band’s talented mastermind Billy Myers III. Not only Euphoric is sure to appeal to fans of The Melvins, Ken Mode and Helmet, among others, but also to anyone whose heart is devoted to the most uproarious form of Rock N’ Roll on the entire planet.

Since its inception in 2014 in Orlando, Florida, the same city that also gave us the awesome Trivium and Death, the band has been on a roll performing to sold out shows in the United States (including venues such as Orlando’s House of Blues), as well as sharing the stage with important names to the scene such as Jucifer, The Phuss, Black Cobra and Hollow Leg, not to mention their solid agreement with the record label Magnetic Eye Records. It’s not difficult to understand how a “newborn” band like The Glorious Rebellion has been capable of all these accomplishments in such a short span of time when you listen to their music. It’s raw, aggressive, uncompromised and entertaining, all qualities that make true Rock N’ Roll what it is today.

A huge amount of noise and filth (basically all you need to generate some badass music) will be dumped inside your ears in the opening track It’s a Sucker’s Game, Kid, with Billy providing those short-tempered vocals and distorted riffs necessary in Sludge Metal. Emmett Brown Has Never Met a Scott That Wasn’t Great, which by the way has one of the best song names I’ve ever seen, is a kick-ass pub chant enhanced by its visceral riffs and pessimistic lyrics (“I owe money to all the right people and they don’t take blood for pay / My state of address is on the fashion don’t list but ain’t nobody got shit to say / We all root for the underdogs / We’re all banking on prayers / Everyone is dying and we’re all going down and we’re wasting time splitting hairs”); while Benaquyl offers the listener pure Sludge Rock, with drummer Wade Scianimanico doing a great job supporting Billy with his “ode to sleeplessness”. Put differently, it’s a rockin’ tune made to be played louder than hell with a neck-breaking rhythm and an unfriendly attitude. What else can you ask for?

Glorious rebellionIn the good Have I Told You Lately That I Loathe You?, a song about difficult relationships (“Stop right now we’re moving on / Ain’t worth gettin if it takes too long / Stop right now we’re calling it quits / If it ain’t easy then it ain’t worth gettin it”), The Glorious Rebellion offer more distortion and acidity to the listener, in special due to the rumbling sound of the bass guitar by Billy, followed by The Dirtiest Dream Jobs, where after a quick modernized intro the band returns to their primeval Sludge Rock and Metal, reminding me of the heaviest tunes by the iconic band Down (and pay attention to the demented guitar solo at the end, it’s totally worth your time). Last but not least, poetry and dissonance walk hand in hand in the best track of all, entitled Bitches Hate Misogyny, where Billy has an amazingly anguished performance mainly due to his growls, which match perfectly with the uproar generated by all other instruments. Well, it looks like Billy is going “straight to hell” after this tune, and all of us will probably join him there as well.

If you want to join this rebellious Rock N’ Roll crew and know more about their brazen music, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase Euphoric at the band’s BandCamp page. We all love the famous motto “Long Live Rock N’ Roll”, but if it lives through the dirty and rowdy music by this unabashed Sludge Rock and Metal group, things get even more exciting.

Best moments of the album: Emmett Brown Has Never Met a Scott That Wasn’t Great and Bitches Hate Misogyny.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Magnetic Eye Records

Track listing
1. It’s a Sucker’s Game, Kid 2:57
2. Emmett Brown Has Never Met a Scott That Wasn’t Great 2:53
3. Benaquyl 2:13
4. Have I Told You Lately That I Loathe You? 3:48
5. The Dirtiest Dream Jobs 3:40
6. Bitches Hate Misogyny 3:36

Band members
Billy Myers III – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Dan Manata – backing vocals, harmonies
Wade Scianimanico – drums

Album Review – Trivium / Silence In The Snow (2015)

Don’t scream for me, Matt.

Rating7

Trivium_Silence In The SnowCan you imagine what would happen if Motörhead decided one day to stop playing their badass Rock N’ Roll to start focusing exclusively on electronic music, or if Cannibal Corpse suddenly started playing only acoustic songs, singing about butterflies and unicorns, without a single drop of blood in their lyrics? That’s something almost impossible to visualize, right? And the reason for that is because if those bands actually decided to do that, to completely change their music direction, they would simply lose their core essence, the main element that defines who they are. Once in a while we see our beloved bands following that horrible path, like Megadeth with their awful “Risk” and obviously Metallica with the worst “metal” album of all time, the annoying “St. Anger”. Now it’s time for American Heavy Metal band Trivium to leave an unfortunate scar in their solid career with the tiresome Silence In The Snow, their seventh studio album and by far their worst work to date.

And I’m not complaining exclusively about the fact that there aren’t any unclean/harsh vocals at all from neither Matt Heafy nor Corey Beaulieu for the first time ever in a Trivium album, which is already a huge bummer, but also about the fact that the music itself is too generic, tasteless and pedestrian, despite being still technical and harmonious. In other words, it lacks so much energy to the point no one is saying anything about this being their first album with Mat Madiro on drums, and we all know how much fans of the band like to chat about which Trivium drummer is or was the best. Besides, where are the rumbling and complex bass lines by Paolo Gregoletto? Some people will try to defend the band saying they already changed their musicality in their latest albums In Waves (too weird?) and Vengeance Falls (too Disturbed-ish?), that they are evolving, but we cannot compare those electrifying releases with this ode to monotony. I listen to In Waves almost as much as to Shogun, without skipping a single song, because after all is said and done it’s a fuckin’ awesome Heavy Metal album. But Silence In The Snow, oh boy, I’m pretty sure I’ll never listen to it again of my own free will. It’s not Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal or even Metalcore.

The Star Wars-ish intro Snøfall is relatively good, but the problem is that after listening to the entire album it made me think a lot about Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which we all know is strongly abhorred by everyone that truly loves Darth Vader & Co. At least the title-track, Silence in the Snow, has its good moments, and albeit not brilliant it has an epic vibe mainly due to Matt’s potent clean vocals. In addition, as I mentioned on the review to their concert here in Toronto last week, it gains a lot of vitality when played live. The same can be said about Blind Leading the Blind, which is Trivium without harsh growls (maybe some screams would have turned it into a classic), providing the listener their catchy and metallic riffs thanks to a great performance by all members, especially Matt and Corey. From this point on it’s just downhill, starting with Dead and Gone, which is almost enjoyable if it wasn’t for one minor detail: this totally feels like a SCREAMING tune, something we should be busting our throats off together with the band, where instead of a clean “Dead and goooooone!” it should have been “DEAAAAD ANNHH GAAAAAAHHHNNN!”, you know what I’m saying? There’s no punch!

The first few seconds of The Ghost That’s Haunting You are promising, before it becomes a feast of generic noises including boring drums, even more boring riffs and a huge amount of “nothing” in its lyrics. This song desperately needed some screams to become decent, with its guitar solos saving it from a total disaster. Pull Me from the Void is yet another song with a favorable start, as fast as it should be, with its instrumental parts living up to Trivium’s legacy. However, I can’t explain why but it never really takes off, maybe it’s because of its horrible chorus, but the overall result is no better than just average. Then we have the ballad Until the World Goes Cold, which I learned to enjoy, but the problem in this case is that if it was something like “Of All These Yesterdays” from In Waves it would have been a lot more efficient.  I mean, if it was a COMPLEMENT to a powerful Trivium album I’m sure even the most diehard fan of the band wouldn’t complain about it, but when an average ballad is one of the highlights of the album you know there’s something wrong.

TriviumI don’t know where to start so bad Rise Above the Tides is. This mediocre tune sounds pretty much like the biggest hit from a generic band that plays at a pop/rock radio station for a few weeks or months and then disappears forever. I hope Matt & Co. never EVER play this garbage live, because that would mean they wouldn’t be playing something a billion times better instead, therefore wasting some precious time of the concert. And for a band that has crafted such bestial tunes like “Insurrection”, “Through Blood and Dirt and Bone” and “Becoming the Dragon”, the following track entitled The Thing That’s Killing Me is 100% unacceptable. It’s one more tricky song that begins in an exciting way but quickly turns into nothing remarkable again. Well, they can have this song played on any pop/rock radio station in the world, but is that what they really want for their career?

Anyway, Beneath the Sun feels like a double-edged sword: add screams and we would have a more than awesome tune; keep it the way it is and you might listen to it once or twice, but will surely never want to make that same mistake again. Not even the instrumental pieces remind me of the real Trivium, it’s just a lazy version of some generic Alternative Metal band added to the album for a reason beyond my comprehension. Fortunately, in the excellent Breathe in the Flames it seems the “generic” virus hasn’t killed all their essence yet, sounding (almost) like pure Trivium, just with the screams (unfortunately) missing, of course, and together with “Blind Leading the Blind” it’s the only song worth listening in the future when the album is no longer a new release and the initial excitement of it is gone. In fact, it’s the only one that sounds truly metal and that I want to see them playing live in their future concerts.

And that’s the end of Silence In The Snow. Well, the special edition contains two other non-exciting tunes that don’t add anything worth mentioning to the album (albeit Cease All Your Fire has its decent moments), so let’s not worry about those. When the album is over, there’s a strong feeling of void, you don’t feel energized or anything positive, and all you want to do is any other activity, no matter what, as long as that doesn’t include listening to it again. This is definitely NOT a good Trivium album, far from that, which makes me wonder if it wasn’t a better idea for Matt to have released it as a solo project instead. Leastwise, if Matt had let Corey scream in most of the songs, we might not have been complaining so much about it, but that’s just a distant dream now that the album is already released. I understand Matt’s goal to evolve as a singer, not screaming anymore, and I respect that, but that doesn’t mean we are forced to enjoy this below-average pop/rock album just because it is Trivium. In the end, I will always love their music, their previous albums and their ass-kicking live performances. But Silence In The Snow? Thanks, but no thanks.

Best moments of the album: Blind Leading the Blind and Breathe in the Flames.

Worst moments of the album: The Ghost That’s Haunting You, Rise Above the Tides, The Thing That’s Killing Me and Beneath the Sun.

Released in 2015 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Snøfall 1:28
2. Silence in the Snow 3:40
3. Blind Leading the Blind 4:25
4. Dead and Gone 3:41
5. The Ghost That’s Haunting You 4:03
6. Pull Me from the Void 3:50
7. Until the World Goes Cold 5:21
8. Rise Above the Tides 3:50
9. The Thing That’s Killing Me 3:25
10. Beneath the Sun 3:52
11. Breathe in the Flames 4:59

Special edition bonus tracks
12. Cease All Your Fire 5:00
13. The Darkness of My Mind 4:44

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, vocals
Mat Madiro – drums