Untitled Metal Column: Volume 3 (4.18.14)

PromoImage-4Oh my, the riffs! It’s as if Karma To Burn finally found the right vocalist, added some Hermano soul and a touch of Clutch’s Southern fried rawk. That’s Pet The Preacher. They rule all and you’d be a fool not to sit up and pay attention.

The Cave & The Sunlight , The Danes second album, begins with some ’70’s soaked out fuzz that lies in the form of “The Cave” but soon shows its’ true colors as “Let Your Dragon Fly” lets loose with some tight Hermano/Unida-style jams.

“Kamikaze Night” begins with a thunderous drum line that would effortlessly fit into a modern version of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac but infused with some bass stylings that put Karma To Burn to shame. “Remains” slows the pace a little but ups the ante in terms of songwriting and diversity but “Fire Baby” brings it back to show what kind of riff mongers Pet The Preacher truly is. “What Now” is another ditty that follows this pattern chugging along as a mostly instrumental monolith except for the chants of “What Now” littered throughout.

Pet The Preacher’s The Cave & the Sunlight is easily a must own if your musical stylings tend to spend their time in the desert primarily.

The Cave & The Sunlight is out through Napalm Records on April 25th. Get yours here and here.

“Destroy My Love” will not ‘destroy’ your love of Those Mockingbirds!

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Didja get a chance to check out Those Mockingbirds when they hit New England last month? No? Then you missed one helluva show AND maybe a chance to catch this little number live.

The song is “Destroy My Love” and if it’s even the slightest indicator of what the upcoming full-length from Those Mockingbirds is going to sound like then we, the music lovers, are in for a treat this year. Striking the perfect balance between the raucous “How To Rob A Bank” and the somber “A Ballad From Hell”, “Destroy My Love” goes deeper adding some Middle Eastern mysticism before a blistering finale.

Check it out below and stay tuned for more from your new favorite band, Those Mockingbirds!

Jokes! Episode 1: Jasper Redd Jazz Talk

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I’m never really sure how to rate a comedy album. Do you judge it on the content? On the flow? Or do you go by how many times an album makes you laugh? How hard you laugh? Does a giggle get a lower grade? A chuckle a higher one? What about guffaws? Belly busters?

For the purposes of not wasting your time anymore with nonsensicals I’m just going to say that if it makes me laugh throughout and the jokes stay with me, it’s a winner in my book.

Which brings us to the focus of our new feature “Jokes!” and Mr. Jasper Redd’s latest Jazz Talk. According to his press release he’s appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Lopez Tonight, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Tosh.0 to name a few. All I know is, the promo came across my desk and the track listing looked interesting. Best decision I ever made!

With a vocal cadence like no one else in the biz today, Redd covers everything from the mystery of McDonald’s gluttonous mascot Grimace (Redd’s “Mctheory” is that Grimace is the color of your heart, “purple and fucked up”, just before a McD brought on heart attack), where Whopper Jr’s come from (“I don’t mess with the Whopper Jr. because that mean the Whopper been fuckin!”), and some thoughts on his fellow African-Americans and the fascination with slavery films (“Hate slavery, love slavery movies. It’s like a cow watching how hamburgers are made. Why you wanna watch that?”).

And that’s just the first half! Beyond that you get some observations on The Michelin Man (Yes, the tire mascot), a new name for The White House (“Halfway House”), and how audio commentary on DVD’s was invented by the black man (“We’ve been talking over movies for decades!”).

You might not have known this Knoxville native before but with Jazz Talk in stores now and available on Netflix, there will soon be no excuse not to know Jasper Redd.

Jazz Talk is available digitally on Amazon now through New Wave Dynamics. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

 

 

Chevelle, La Gargola: Album Review

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As I tackle listening to the new Chevelle – I mean really listening to it on a pair of headphones – I start to hear something worth talking about on album #7 from the Chicago trio.

If one were to go back to 1999, when the band first dropped on the scene with Point #1, I remember being at a vendor trade show and being handed a promo copy of that album.  My close colleagues, who were hard rock fans themselves, asked me what I thought.  Well, I could hear parts of Tool and some of the other more melodic hard rock at the time.  This was before the Three Days Graces of the world.  We’re talking the Staind’s, Godsmacks, and Korn’s still commanding stages and this band coming up and trying to play to half packed arena’s waiting for the headliner.

The first two tracks, ‘Ouija Board,’ and ‘An Island,’ harken back to their early days…the more I listen, the more I appreciate.  The single ‘Take Out The Gunman,’ is pretty sweet, even if it’s usage of cowbell seems to be a running joke in rock these days.  In my opinion, Chevelle’s albums are generally pretty decent, but you never know how decent (Speaking of decent, I don’t know if I’ve just got a shitty digital copy that I DL’d or if the production of this album truly is this gritty).

For example, on one listen of 2002’s Wonder What’s Next – I knew that album was going to be huge and that it was chock full of radio and arena-friendly singles.  Sadly, I was right about Nickelback’s Silver Side Up during this time too.  Chevelle have always remained true to their sound, though – and there’s something to be said for that.  This Kind of Thinking… (2004) was kind of their ‘commercial,’ sophomore album and it was just kind of ‘eh…’  Vena Sera, well, to be honest I’d completely forgotten about that album until I sat down to write this.  That could have had something to do with first single, ‘Well Enough Alone,’ which never managed to register with me.  Too commercial and lacking in hooks, which was indicative of the album as a whole.

Sci-Fi Crimes brought it all back to Wonder territory for me and 2011’s Hat’s Off… was half an album of really solid stuff.  So after an initial strong start, where do the other seven tracks land in summary of La Gargola?

‘Jawbreaker,’ is a slow simmering boil reminiscent of a few tracks on Hat’s Off… ‘Hunter Eats Hunter,’ sounds like something off of Tool’s Opiate EP for the first 2:40, before :50 of instrumental threaten to derail the almost six minute track.  A little bit of editing here would have tightened up the aggression.  Honestly, the track could have been a lot better if two minutes were trimmed.

Featuring guitar patterns that recall dredg, ‘One Ocean,’ is an interesting, lighter turn midway through the album.  ‘Choking Game,’ is melodic to a degree before dissolving in it’s final minute into something recalling Pretty Hate Machine type industrial rock and feedback.  ‘The Damned’ is groove oriented but perhaps a bit stock for Chevelle at this point.  ‘Under the Knife’ again starts with riffs that are most cognizant of early Tool, and fortunately maintain the vibe through the entire four minutes without diverging elsewhere.

La Gargola closes with ‘Twinge,’ a slow burner with distant shimmering guitar and  a steady refrain.  It’s a good track and in the same vein as ‘Clones’ (which closed the last album).  Basically, I found six out of the 10 tracks to be keepers after giving things an honest listen.  I enjoy Chevelle and admire their work ethic.  They’re mostly consistent and La Gargola, while perhaps not as good as the last two albums, still holds it’s own early, in the middle and again at the end with some filler in between.

 

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 2 (3.29.14)

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At seven albums in, Lacuna Coil continue to grow so it should comes as no surprise that Broken Crown Halo pushes the band even further. Just when fans think they know who their beloved band is and what they’re capable of, a ferocious song like “Victims” comes along which sees co-vocalist Cristina Scabbia delivering a vicious spoken word diatribe. Later, there’s the industrial power ballad “Cybersleep” where Scabbia opens up with an autotuned intro (which rears it’s mechanical head during the outro as well) and continues breaking new ground for the band.

I don’t quite remember Lacuna Coil being so Korn-ish which is not necessarily a bad thing just surprising as the downtuned guitars explode on defiant  opener “Nothing Stands In Our Way” and continue throughout the rest of Broken Crown Halo. BCH also sees LC at their creepiest with an eerie synth permeating throughout the opening onslaught sounding like some leftover score cues from Nightmare On Elm Street (The original, obviously). “Zombie” showcases co-vocalist Andrea Ferro, who really sinks his teeth in on this brutal banger. Next up the dreamy “Hostage To The Light” lets Scabbia strut her stuff in what is one of the most anthemic and beautiful Lacuna Coil offerings yet.

Of course, if you’re a purist and need your Lacuna Coil to just do what they do then pay close attention to tracks like “Infection” . However, if you’re like me and want the bands you champion to go one step beyond with each outing check out “In The End I Feel Alive” which brings back the Korn grooves as bassist Marco Coti Zelati does his best Fieldy impression (Hopefully not with the cross tattoo on his face) or closer “One Cold Day” which is the stuff of Tim Burton inspired nightmares.

Broken Crown Halo is out on April 1st through Century Media. Pre-order packages are available here.

 

 

 

Band of Skulls, Himalayan: Album Review

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The propulsive march of the lead track that takes charge of Southampton’s Band of Skulls third album is more proof that the U.K. still has some fantastic imports.  ‘Asleep at the Wheel,’ is ripe with swagger, squeal, and bluesy abandon – reconciling 70’s power chords across the simplest of lines ‘…because where we are going is anyone’s guess.’

The power trio knows exactly where it’s going though, as their sleeves are full of their influences.  The title cut, ‘Himalayan,’ finds Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson harmonizing across Prince worthy funk keyboards and a guitar solo that makes you wish you had a few more quarters for the jukebox to play the song over.  I mean, in my minds eye, I can see Bootsy Collins and G.E. Smith jamming this track out, 10 years ago.

‘Hoochie Coochie,’ – I literally had to look around to verify it wasn’t a T.Rex cover.  Complete glam and strut.  There are a few things that separate Band of Skulls from their contemporaries (I would utter The Black Keys, BRMC and The Whigs in the same breath).  For example, Emma Richardson’s vocal presence and musical input.  ‘Cold Sweat,’ is a ragga-blues slow burner with strings, and a pace changer after the rollicking opening trio.

‘Nightmares,’ is one of the band’s most commercially accessible tunes, to date.  Everyone’s got to have their U2 moment, right?  This one was stolen from the early 8o’s post-new wave landscape right down to Bono’s ‘Ooh-Ooh-Oooh-Oh.’  It’s a tip of the cap and as such, is slightly head-bob worthy for the four minutes of space it takes up.

Drummer Matt Hayward brings the album bopping back on ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ navigating underneath Marsden’s guitar lines and laying nifty percussion changes across the bridges and chorus.  Everything about this album has a familiar vibe to it.  ‘I Guess I Know You Fairly Well’ is probably the closest to aping the Black Keys that occurs, though.  The band has enough creativity, enough of a respect for what’s come before them, to both honor and admire those sounds in creating something bold and new.

On ‘You’re All That I’m Not,’ the band lopes through its first three minutes before taking a progression through Snow Patrol to Spirtualized to Eric Clapton (circa 1989’s Journeyman).  The ghosts of Jack White and Marc Bolan rear their heads on the noir-ish southwestern ‘I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying.’  It’s a rip-off but in a post-White Stripes world, one happily accepts.  Three quarter’s into Himalayan one realizes that not only was there no sophomore slump on 2011’s Sweet/Sour, but Band of Skulls keep getting better with the passage of time.

Shimmering, foreboding strings open the Richardson-led ‘Toreador,’ before it picks up into a gallop.  The word alone evokes strong imagery – a toreador of course, being a bullfighter.  The guitar solo puts you in the arena as one imagines the eyes of the bull, steam billowing from it’s nostrils and it’s front hoof digging it’s position in the dirt.  The matador in gold sequined attire, the colored cape and shoulderblade betraying the banderillas hidden and waiting.  Ah.  Love truly is blind, sometimes.

‘Heaven’s Key,’ follows and, in some ways, reminds me of a great band out of Wokingham, Berkshire, entitled The Cooper Temple Clause as well as pretty much anything by Black Rebel.  It’s a great moody piece with some edgy guitar.  ‘Take my head/or/Take my heart/and keep your conscience clean/well/I got a feeling/it’s a burning desire/and I don’t know what it means/so ‘F’ it/are you looking at hell/for heaven’s key?’

On the album’s closing track,’Get Yourself Together,’ it’s pure homemade love.  It’s dreamy, mopey British pop at it’s finest, recalling Bowie and The Doves.

Himalayan really is a collection of mountains – all impressive peaks, with very little bottom.  I look forward to catching these cats live, hopefully in the not too distant future…

 

 

 

 

Doom Abuse: The ultimate The Faint record?

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Doom Abuse, The Faint’s sixth album, took way too long to come out. Considering that The Faint ceased to be somewhere in the six years since their last album (2008’s Fasciination) was released it’s a miracle that fans are even holding a copy of Doom Abuse in their hands. But speaking of the album you should almost be holding in your hands by now (Vinyl copies are out now, available on CD and digitally April 8th), it is by and large well worth the wait. The sound of a band reinvigorated  and taking stock of what made them great in the first place but branching out into unknown territory at the same time, Doom Abuse grabs hold of everything that made The Faint unique in the past and fuses it with something even more futuristic and awesome. Worth the wait? Eff yes!

Mildly teased at the end of 2012 with the 10th anniversary Danse Macabre tour that heralded the “Evil Voices” 12″ (The sinister “Unseen Hand” has been slightly retooled to fit in here while “Evil Voices” remains mostly intact), Doom Abuse is finally here and it is easily the best, most fun, and most cohesive album The Faint has concocted thus far.

This is an album that was made to be danced to from the opening dischordant squeal of “Help In The Head” through to the synth fade out on “Damage Control”. The Faint live is this infectious moving beast that compels the audience to follow suit and dance like maniacs. Doom Abuse is a great soundtrack to that through and through. There’s the punk rock rabble rousings from Fasciination (“Salt My Doom”, “Scapegoat”), Danse Macabre throwbacks (“Lessons From The Darkness”) and some things that are completely new (“Mental Radio” is a Gary Numan meets The Cure amalgamation while “Dress Code” goes for Freedom Of Choice-era Devo).

In other words, Doom Abuse has *ahem* something for everybody.

At the end of the day, this was the album The Faint needed to make after their hiatus. Todd Fink is at the top of his game on every track (Especially on the quintessential “Loss Of Head”), Dapose is a sonic maelstrom throughout as well while Jacob Thiele creates these epic synthetic soundscapes (“Animal Needs”) and Clark Baechle just keeps the beat alive incessantly.

Doom Abuse is out now as a Deluxe Double Vinyl Edition and out on April 8th in CD and digital formats.

 

 

Queen Kwong, “The Strange Fruit”: A ‘Ten Dimes’ Review

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There’s a handful of powerful female voices popping up across the airwaves over the past couple years.  From the dark, gothic rumblings of Chelsea Wolfe, to the folk songstress Laura Marling, or perhaps the guitar virtuoso Marnie Stern or emerging pop artists Sky Ferriera or Lana Del Rey?  All of them have something to say and are making no bones about getting their message across.  In some ways closer to the Marnie Stern vibe comes Carre Callaway – a young woman whose actually been in and out of the scene since 2009, when discovered in New Orleans by none other than NIN’s Trent Reznor.

She’s the solo artist behind the moniker Queen Kwong and she recently collaborated with Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit, Black Light Burns) on her new single, “The Strangest Fruit.”  This was my first exposure to her as an artist.  I then tackled the smattering of EP’s and singles over on Spotify.  It’s interesting to see her growth as an artist in just three short years.  She’s equal parts Iggy Pop & The Stooges (“Eddie the Kid” single (2011)), post-punk a la Kim Deal (‘Bitter Lips” single (2011)), alterna-grunge a la Hole, or even Black Light Burns-like frenetic guitar work (2012’s “Long Gone” single).

“The Strange Fruit,” is another animal entirely.  Sparse keyboard notes, a shuffling percussion, and cinematic guitars take this track into shoegazer territory yet it holds a pop sensibility.  It’s rather brilliant stuff.  But Levar Burton really said it best.  Check out the video for the track below (sorry, no Wes cameo…)

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 1 (3.15.14)

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Eleven years ago today I said “I will” to my wife but I’ve been married to metal for longer than that. I’m not really sure what my first metal album was (Either …And Just For All or The Black Album by Metallica on cassette I think) but as soon as I discovered the genre, I couldn’t stop eating it up. My first concert was Pantera with Crowbar opening at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, MA on the Far Beyond Driven tour in April of ’94 and I’ve been to hundreds of heavy shows since (Wow, 20 years since my first show. I’m old.) Anyway, I listen to metal, see metal live, and while I was writing for popblerd.com, wrote a regular metal column for over 2 years (I have some metal tattoos, too).

Which brings us to today and Rock And Roll Fables’ first “regular” column, a play on my old “Metal Monday” from my Popblerd days. I tend to write about what I like so if you’re looking for some scathing reviews of bands I don’t like then go elsewhere cuz frankly, I don’t have the time to write or listen to what I don’t like (There are few exceptions, however, especially when a band I like puts out a shitty record.)

But I digress. A lot apparently.

I had plans on reviewing the new Lamb Of God doc (That’s coming next week) and then I was going to write about the phenomenal new album from Hark (That’s coming next week, too, I hope) but then yesterday Killer Be Killed premiered the first two tracks from their upcoming debut on Nuclear Blast Records and I was immediately inspired.

If you don’t know Killer Be Killed yet they are the definition of a metal “supergroup”. Mostly (Sorry ex-The Mars Volta drummer David Elitch!). Beginning as the brainchild of Max Cavalera and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato who wanted to create a Nailbomb-type project (Which was a one off pairing of Cavalera and Fudge Tunnel mastermind and later The Mars Volta producer Alex Newport), the group eventually expanded to feature drummer Elitch and Mastodon’s Troy Sanders.

First up is “Wings of Feather and Wax” which opens with a wall of feedback followed by a juggernaut of riffs as Sanders and Puciato trade lines. Cavalera enters later with his uncanny growl. The band hits tribal territory during the breakdown with Elitch laying down a solid foundation until Max brings the Sepultura with a line beginning with “Arise! Arise!”. The song is all over the place with elements of metal, thrash, and some really melodic lines thanks to Puciato and Sanders.

“Face Down” is the more straightforward metal song of the two with a great Cavalera riff and Puciato letting it rip vocally. The song goes for the jugular for almost five minutes and displays the diversity that this debut is sure to have. The surprising thing about both songs is how diverse the vocal line up is. If you were expecting this to be the Max Cavalera show then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The other great thing is the amount of melody involved. Sanders has evolved considerably over the years and it shows here while Puciato really gets to show his stuff on “Wings…” bringing to mind the “poppier” DEP moments (“Black Bubblegum” in particular) and his work in Spylacopa. If this is a sign of what the rest the rest of the album holds then metal fans are in for a treat!

Killer Be Killed will be unleashed through Nuclear Blast on May 13th. Pre-orders are up now over at the Nuclear Blast shop but for now you can check out “Wings of Feather and Wax” and “Face Down” below. For more on the band, head on over to their official Facebook page.

 

 

Combichrist rule the world, motherfuckers. Or didn’t you know?

The most aggressive band in industrial music today is back with We Love You, an album that throws everything AND the kitchen sink into the mix. If you liked the guitar-heavy hyper-intensity of last year’s No Redemption soundtrack yet yearned for the more club friendly numbers then We Love You is the solution to all your problems.

It’s like the Daleks are narrating the Doctor Who meets Flash Gordon synth overtones of “We Were Made To Love You” which opens the apocalyptical album. “We Were Made To Love You” is the logical comedown after last year’s abrasive No Redemption album featuring a disjointed swirl of electronics and guitars after the narration ends and the sonic shitstorm begins.

From there it sounds like business as usual (The KMFDM electro romp “Every Day is War”, chaotic thumper “Can’t Control”) but if there’s one thing that listeners should take away from WLY, it is this: Nothing is as it seems. Like the press release states: “Everything is farther, faster, and darker. There are more guitars, pounding drums, heavier electronics, further experimentation, lots more anger…” This means for every “Satan’s Propaganda” there’s a song like “Fuck Unicorns” (Think Daft Punk with some seriously dark undertones and frontman Andy LaPlegua acting as a demented ringleader/televangelist) or the acoustic-driven, pensive “The Evil In Me” waiting in the wings to expand their sound even further.

We Love You also features some of the most straight up rawk tunes Combichrist has ever laid down as well as being the most sing-a-long  album to date. “Maggots At The Party” is up first (Followed by “Love Is A Razorblade” later on) and is a straight banger. You can almost picture the Beastie Boys “You Gotta Fight…” meets Lamb Of God’s “Redneck”-style video that should accompany the song with drummer Joe Letz just wailing away at the kit while LaPlegua forces his way through some cluttered crowd at a house party,

The tail end of WLY is where the magic really happens, though. “From My Cold Dead Hands” is a blessing. Easily one of the best industrial songs of the year, the effects-laden robot trading verses with LaPlegua’s monstrous growl is serene. That leads into the equally impressive “We Rule The World Motherfuckers” (Sure to be a hit on the goth dance floor and during their upcoming tour) which is another example of the genius of Combichrist at work. Speaking of genius, that word doesn’t even come close to describing the majestic two part closer “Retreat Hell” with “Part 1” being this monstrous tribal wall of sound and “Part 2” supplementing it with a long running rant by LaPlegua to make the perfect coda to a perfect album.

We Love You is available on March 25th through Metropolis Records. Physical and digital copies are available here and make sure you head on over to their Facebook page to see where you can catch them on their upcoming North American tour with William Control and New Year’s Day.