White Noise Owl’s debut EP is the first must own of 2014!

It’s true what they say: Good things come in small packages. In White Noise Owl’s case the “small package” is in the form of a debut EP instead of a full-length and the tracks included within are definitely some of the best hard rock anthems you’ll hear in all of 2014.

Until We Meet Again is a mature helping of hard, heavy rock from a bunch of guys who you probably saw in one form or another on Ozzfest ’98. Make no mistake, though, this is not another version of Snot or Ultraspank or even Evanescence or Staind. WNO is something different altogether. This is a group of guys who have been around the industry and are banding together to forge a new destiny and judging by the results of Until We Meet Again, it’s definitely a promising one.

Vocalist Pete Murray croons on opener “Feed” with the line “I don’t care for what you’re feeding me/And I won’t stand for negativity, no!” and that is exactly the case with White Noise Owl. There’s no bullshit and a focus on the heart of the matter: The music!

“Bomber” is a sonic masterpiece and has some of those grandiose Filter-like radio rock choruses that the band have become known for (Title Of Record producer Ben Grosse coincidentally is the producer and mixer here) while guitarist Chris Shy diversifies the proceedings during the opening of “End Over End” with some down home strumming. The EP culminates with “Are You Breathing” which is probably the best example of the “White Noise Owl sound” as it were featuring stellar drumming from Will Hunt and some fantastic bass work from John Fahnestock along with the aforementioned Shy and Murray.

Look, I’m a fan of most of these guys already. I’ve been Team Murray since I first heard of Ultraspank and their ridiculously underrated vocalist in the late ’90’s, I bought the Snot debut after seeing Lynn Strait leap on stage during a Manhole opening slot in Boston (Fahnestock actually sold me the long sleeve I still own after a Snot show opening for Sevendust in Worcester), and I loved both Skrape records that Hunt bashed away on.

These guys know the biz and they definitely deserve your attention. Hopefully White Noise Owl is the spark that lights a fire under the ass of the hard rock music world.

For more on White Noise Owl including pre-order options for Until We Meet Again (Due on March 11th), head on over to their official Facebook and Twitter pages and please don’t forget to “like” us over on ours.

 

Breton prepare for “War” on sophomore release.

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Listening to War Room Stories, the second full length from the UK’s Breton, has made me appreciate Other People’s Money so much more. They’re both equally brilliant but for different reasons. While OPM was this mechanical blip-hop masterpiece, War Room… sees the band opening up so much more.

Opener “Envy” is an easy contender for single of the year. It’s catchy and moves the band’s sound ahead tenfold presenting a more organic overall approach and a warmth not felt on some of their earlier works. Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibe the song emits or maybe it’s the typical “They’re growing as musicians” spiel. Whatever the case, the song is hypnotic and is the perfect introduction to War Room Stories.

From there, Breton continue to excel and exceed expectations. “S4” could be a film score with the plucked strings that open it up and while “Legs & Arms” (Along with “302 Watchtowers”) might be the closest Breton come to sounding like OPM, the track still drives their sound infinitely forward. Speaking of forward, “Get Well Soon” is the undeniable future of Breton. A veritable sonic tour-de-force, the song is unlike anything Breton have birthed thus far yet it’s the next one, “Closed Circuit”, that really shakes things up. It’s the striking guitar lines, the string section, the horns…just everything about this song that screams perfection.

While later still, echoes of “Envy” rear their pretty little head on closer “Fifteen Minutes” proving that Breton makes music that’ll make you think as well as move. Far be it from me to tell you what you should and shouldn’t like but I’ll be damned if I don’t take this opportunity to stress how essential War Room Stories is to any your collection this year.

War Room Stories is out on February 3rd. You can still pre-order the album here then check out Breton online here and don’t forget to head on over to our Facebook page and give us a like, too!

 

Have A Nice Life invite you to The Unnatural World!

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I have to admit: I tried to get into Have A Nice Life before and couldn’t. For all the praise Deathconsciousness received I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Still, when The Unnatural World was announced I was determined to try again. I’m lucky I did because this is easily an album that is not to be missed in 2014.

If ever there was an album that was meant to be heard through headphones and at high volumes it was The Unnatural World. Especially during these recent cold New England nights, a stereo just won’t do this album justice. One needs to be fully enveloped in the warmth of Have A Nice Life’s sound to fully appreciate it. Take opener “Guggenheim Wax Museum”, for example, which is this massive wall of sound that could easily be dropped into The Thing as it heralds something truly bleak and solitary.

Cut to the Joy Division meets The Sisters Of Mercy “Defenstration Song” which is glorious, goth-soaked, and destined to stand out on the dance floor at the Paradise during one of their inevitable Man Ray Redux nights to give you the knowledge that Have A Nice Life is anything but predictable. “Burial Society” follows and is this beautiful and hypnotic piano-laden piece with vocals that are at times Dave Gahan-esque while the rest of The Unnatural World just amplifies what the first three songs inevitably laid the groundwork for. Like Sigur Ros without the made up language (Especially “Music Will Untune The Sky”), Have A Nice Life is presenting something completely fresh and an easy contender for must-own album of the new year.

The Unnatural World is out on February 4th through The Flenser (Stream AND buy it here). For more on HANL, head on over to their Facebook page and don’t forget to like us, too, over on ours!

 

Sierra mixes old school Tool with COC-style swamp boogie on debut album Pslip!

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The debut release from Kylesa mainman Philip Cope’s Retro Futurist label is here and it is a glorious amalgamation of everything that can go right in the world of heavy rawk. The band is Sierra, the album is Pslip, and they deliver a down home-style rock album straight from the swamps of Ontario (Wait, what???).

“Pslip In” starts off with an almost Adam Jones-like riff leading into the epic “Little Smoke” which clocks in at just under seven minutes and introduces Jason Taylor’s COC meets COC vox (A little John Custer, a little Pepper Keenan, a whole lotta awesome).

“Control Folly” really displays what this band can do and lets drummer Ky Anto shine a little while Taylor lays some thick and crunchy riffs. Bringing up the low end is never an easy task in any band but bassist Robbie Carvalho does an excellent job especially during instrumental track “Psquigalogz” which brings to mind the vastly underrated Karma To Burn.

And as they say, the hits just keep on coming especially as you “Pslip In” more to the album. “Pseptember” is an unbridled riff session while “Smoke Filled Room” is quiet and introspective before giving way to an all out assault on your senses. Kylesa like Sierra already. Pslip is the evidence of why you should, too.

For more on Sierra, head on over here and please don’t forget to “like” us on our very own Facebook page!

Pslip is out on January 28th through Retro Futurist. Snag your copy here.

 

 

 

The Greater Wrong of the Right re-issue: How Skinny Puppy got her groove back

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The Skinny Puppy renaissance of the 21st Century began in 2004 with the release of The Greater Wrong of the Right, their first new studio recording in eight years. Ten years later and the band is better than ever and even more potent releasing one of their best to date with last year’s Weapon. In 2004, though,  they were still finding their sea legs if you will on an album that was also the first without Dwayne Goettel and longtime producer Dave Ogilvie.

As a whole the album was a welcome return for the reigning industrial giants but it shed most of the ferocious bile they spewed in their early years. Jarring guitar lines are mechanically cut and pasted  throughout and not much of a presence overall (Most noticeably on opener “I’mmortal”) while the ringmaster himself, Nivek Ogre, doesn’t quite sound like Ogre. That unmistakable snarl doesn’t rear its’ ugly little head until closers “Goneja” and “DaddyuWarbash” actually. The surprises continued with the overly lush, almost Pop, sound of “Use Less” featuring Wayne Static and Tool’s Danny Carey.

Is this a watered down version of SP then? Far from it! Instead, TGWotR presents a band falling in love with creating progressive industrial music all over again and a sign of what was to come. If you were a fan of the band previously, TGWotR just made you appreciate them more. If you were a new fan looking for a jumping on point then there was no better gateway drug then TGWotR.

The Greater Wrong of the Right re-issue is out on January 28th through Metropolis Records, pressed on heavyweight vinyl for the first time ever. Reserve your copy here, but act fast as the vinyl is limited to 1000 copies! You can also get the album on CD and digitally.

For more on Skinny Puppy (And to see where you can catch them on their upcoming tour) head on over to their Official Facebook Page and don’t forget to “Like” us at the Rock And Roll Fables page, too!

 

Second Grave release Antithesis, prepare to destroy Cambridge on Saturday then the World!

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It’s not often that heavy metal has the perfect combination of ear-crunching music and pristine vocals. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Second Grave play to a sparse crowd at Ralph’s earlier in the year when they managed to hit that mark. Their new EP Antithesis promises not to disappoint.

Krista Van Guilder has a croon that calls to mind the timbre of some of metal’s greatest vocalists in a way that’s distinctly feminine and entirely satisfying, while her deep-throated scream is no joke. Her guitar combined with Chris Drzal’s, counterpointed by Dave Gein on bass and Chuck Ferreira on drums results in delightful headbang anthems. Breakdowns are executed expertly and perfectly timed for horn-raising catcalls from live audiences.

Do yourself a favor and add them to your library; there’s no way you’ll be disappointed. If you’re local to the Boston area, get your ass to the Middle East November 30th to see them with Summoner, Rozamov, and Jack Burton Vs David Lo Pan. I’ll be the one up front screaming my face off with glee — bring me a gin ‘n’ tonic and we’ll be pals for life.

 

 

(the) Melvins are back in 2013 (again) with Tres Cabrones

I’m not sure if there was ever such a thing as a “classic” line up of (the) Melvins because, quite frankly, each and every line up they pop up with is pretty fricking unique and classic in its own right. Nevertheless we now have Tres Cabrones featuring the return of original drummer Mike Dillard thus relegating Dale Crover to bass duties obviously.

Fans of Houdini and Stoner Witch particularly should take note because Tres… is definitely a throwback in some respects especially when the former album is concerned. If Houdini was recorded in 2013 instead of 1993 (Geez, has it really been that long?) it would’ve sounded like this. One listen to the massive “City Dump” will transport you back to the nonsensical thrash sludge of “Honey Bucket” and while we’re on the topic of “nonsensical”, let’s not overlook the “covers” on this beast. Namely “99 Bottles”, “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”, and “In The Army Now” which are a far cry from this year’s Everybody Loves Sausages covers album but fit into Tres Cabrones nicely.

For a 19th studio album, Tres… still sounds just as fresh as (the) Melvins earlier monstrosities and features some of their most accessible stuff to date like “Dogs And Cattle Prods” except for the almost nine minute length. Okay, “accessible” for (the) Melvins then. On the other hand, for every “traditional” song you get like “Doctor Mule” or the punk rock by way of The Ramones “Walter’s Lips” (A Lewd cover, actually, followed by the equally intense cover of “Stick ’em Up Bitch” by King B and Pop o Pies) there’s an “I Told You I was Crazy” waiting around the corner to bring you back down to (the) Melvins version of reality.

Tres Cabrones, a veritable smorgasbord of (the) Melvins-style goodness,  is out now through Ipecac Recordings

Grade: A

Summoner unleash Atlantian. Prepare yourself!

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Getting out of the desert and into the swamp, Summoner’s latest album Atlantian probably has more in common with Black Sabbath or Deliverance-era Corrosion Of Conformity than Kyuss. The opening wall of riffs on “The Gatekeeper” is a good indicator of what the rest of this eight track masterpiece holds as it builds and builds upon a slow monolithic groove. It’s almost as if Summoner took “Dead Moon” from Phoenix as a template for Atlantian and went nuts.

Atlantian is a different beast altogether though. The closest this one comes to the raw fury that Phoenix brought is the spiritual cousin to “Winged Hessians”, “Horns Of War”. That’s not to say that Atlantian is a slouch by any means. Far from it! While  Phoenix’s spacier moments went into the ether, the grooves here go straight for the jugular by incorporating some extra crunchy riffage throughout.

The main thing that Atlantian proves is that Summoner is constantly expanding their sound. Whether it’s the Geezer Butler-like bass line that opens “The Prophecy” or the sonic maelstrom which sounds an awful lot like some old school Metallica riffing that’s a precursor to the title track’s eventual slow burn, Atlantian continually astounds, surprises, and adds to Summoner’s musical repertoire.

Atlantian is available on November 19th through Magnetic Eye Records. Pre-order yours here. If you’re in the Boston/Cambridge area, be sure to check out the record release at the Middle East upstairs featuring some other local favorites like Jack Burton Vs. David Lo Pan, Second Grave, and Rozamov on November 30th. Event and ticket info can be found here.

Grade: A

 

Mutoid Man’s Helium Head is the Verge-In album the world needs AND deserves!

Verge-In is here! Sort of! It’s Helium Head, the debut EP from Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller (Or Cave In’s Ben Koller depending on what year it is) new group Mutoid Man! Exclamation! (Hey, you take a listen to this EP on repeat and tell me you’re not bouncing off the walls!)

It’s a two pronged sonic onslaught of delightful frenetic frenzy packed neatly into a seven track EP. If you’re a fan of either of the members’ respective “day jobs” then Helium Head has something for you. It’s also an album where if you blink, you might miss all the fun. Yeah, it’s that fast.

Koller, as always, is on fire here but it’s Brodsky who really shines in the end. Fans who thought he’s gone soft with age and let Caleb Scofield take on all the aggressive parts in Cave In need only listen to opener “Gnarcissist” or follow up “Scavengers” to know that not only is Brodsky still capable of bringing the heavy but he’s also still capable of bringing some noise not heard since the Until Your Heart Stops days. Just listen to “Friday the 13/8” or “Lost In The Hive” as Brodsky gets his rage on completely for more proof.

All around, Helium Head is a solid debut of unexpected chaos from two of Massachusetts finest and hopefully a great indicator of what’s to come.

Helium Head is out digitally on November 22nd and physically on November 26th. Check out the pre-order options over on Shirts & Destroy now.

 

Lady Gaga is the shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of ARTPOP

I like Lady Gaga. I do. I was a fan when she first popped up on the scene during NKOTB’s comeback The Block  way, way back in 2008 and loved her debut and was even more taken back by the follow-up EP/mini-album The Fame Monster. Am I a fan of the theatrics, the fanfare, the persona? Nope. I grew up in a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot era of shock rock/metal so maybe I’m just desensitized to it all but the extra flair does nothing for me. However, it’s incredible that just listening to a Gaga track instantly evokes images of what the dance routine will be like on stage.

That said, I do believe that Stefani is a phenomenal performer. She captures that perfect mix of Britney and Christina but just does it better and on ARTPOP she immediately brings to mind a musical icon when she at times channels Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Born This Way was not the album that needed to follow the breakout success of “Bad Romance”. For all you monsters out there that felt slighted by her second studio album (I don’t consider myself a “monster” by the way), her third full-length will instantly quell your fears.

“Aura” is this gorgeous opener that draws listeners in with a subtle flamenco line and Gaga’s effects-laden vocals before giving way to a larger than life dance pop party as the pop star belts out  “Aura-a-a-ah!” circling back to the “Ra ra…” chorus of “Bad Romance”.

From there on out, ARTPOP gets bigger and bolder. “Venus” is a raucous space jam, “G.U.Y.” is a divine electro romp, and “Sexxx Dreams” is a funky yet filthy little ditty about, um, you can use your imagination. It also features a nifty little bass line that one could picture John Taylor popping up for (Speaking of, why has there been no Simon LeBon/Lady Gaga duet yet?).

T.I. turns up along with Too Short and Twista for “Jewels n’ Drugs” which could be compared to Miley Cyrus’ recent foray into hip hop but unlike Hannah Montana, Gaga just executes everything better.

Midway through is when ARTPOP gets really interesting as the album traverses the stratosphere on the atmospheric “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly and the title track which takes listeners to a whole different realm of awesome.

The lack of ballads is a plus in my book as well and luckily (For me, at least) when they do pop up they’re back to back and towards the end and followed by the massive “Applause” to close out a triumphant third album.

ARTPOP is out on November 11th. Order it here and here.
Grade: A