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Rise of the Lion
Rise of the Lion
Price: $10.99
74 used & new from $0.98

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MUFASA, May 15, 2014
This review is from: Rise of the Lion (Audio CD)
Miss May I's fourth installment is dividing fans. I've waited to critique the record allowing others to pass quick judgements. Even if you are a previous MMI fan, their work, studio, and tour life should warrant you to give Rise of the Lion more than half a listen from Hottopic.

It's time to grow out of certain habits in the online circuit. When I was growing up, and my taste creating itself; bands like It Dies Today and Soilwork plagued my walkman. In 2005/6 there werent many options other than "If you like it listen, if not, move on." Every band we listen to inherently sounds like an earlier band. Nothing is entirely original anymore and genres have particular formulas that bands use as templates to create sound. Current bands still look to pioneers such as Pantera or Ignite for inspiration. Sometimes the results are flat - others wholesomely gratifying. Rise of the Lion doesn't change the genre and so don't most albums under the `metalcore` tag. The boredom isn't derived from the formula; but the creativity of the band.

Rise of the Lion flexes a different set of muscles for Miss May I. The biggest improvement are the instrumentals. There is a tightness to the guitars and a sharp crunch to the drums. Whether it's "End of Me's" fluid rhythm or the eruption of "Darker Days," Miss May I found the right balance. The solo in "You want me" gives me chills each time.

I think what reviews are missing are the context and use of the words "You, I, my" and "me." ROTL was written essentially by fans through letters. Levi's lyrics aren't about him, but us. So, when you hear "get ME out!" - the first line in "Lunatik;" the `me` in that sentence refers to you. You recite it in your head and individualize it. The song is about you. "My sorrow wont take back, oh it wont take back these days." The `MY` in that lyric is yours to personalize. These four terms are utilized to make us the author of Rise of the Lion. "My world has come apart...I face the night, all alone." Each time you hear one of these words, remove Levi from the equation and place your name/identity.

If nothing has changed, I still think Ryan is used too much. He isn't the best, or the worst clean singer - I'm just not 100% compelled by his cadence. I think clean vocals should only be used to evoke tone. There are a few times ("Echoes") he fits appropriately. I think MMI have gotten too comfortable integrating him in each and every song. Thankfully ROTL has a few tracks where Ryan takes a back seat. It proves Levi can stand on his own and make heavy tracks. Ryan works best in short bursts. There are times when I tire of his voice. If they reduce his role vocally, until the atmosphere calls for it - they'd be stronger. You would remember his choruses more for being "standout" moments. Everyone knows the chorus to AILD's "Forever" because it was barely one of its kind on a record of a dozen - its contrast.

With no interludes or periods of rest, ROTL can seem repetitive. If there was a bridge near the end of maybe just the musicians, the album would have more weight. They could express just a landscape of sound - no vox.

The last item - I feel there is a huge misconception of Levi/MMI on this record. I've seen it and continue to see it - "Looks like Of Mice & Men and Memphis May Fire had a baby, looks like Killswitch and Issues had a baby, looks like As I lay Dying and Beartooth had a baby." These comments show users name - dropping. But these couldn't be any more false and also tells me it's youth. Those reading this will think mine is more adequate and fitting. "Looks like Darkest Hour and Devildriver had a baby." Those who can remember Undoing Ruin or even Deliver Us will understand when they hear "Saints, Sinners, and Greats. Those who remember "Nothing's Wrong?" will feel at home with "A Hero With No Name." Levi channels both Dez and John Henry with an unfiltered often grating voice. But it works. If ROTL makes me whip out Deliver Us, an acclaimed metalcore record from 2007 - they win. Theyre carrying on a tradition through sound.

ROTL possesses some serious crunch with hints of monotony. It is a selfless record putting the listener's pen in the hand of each lyric. Add an EP's worth of bonus tracks and you have a tour of worthy sounds. If you're a MMI fan, give their efforts/ months of work a few go arounds. You always have AAFTW. If you want to reminisce "Doomsayer" then buy this on vinyl.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2015 7:28 AM PDT

Ghost Empire
Ghost Empire
Price: $12.99
33 used & new from $5.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GHOSTS, February 4, 2014
This review is from: Ghost Empire (Audio CD)
Caliban’s melodic “I am Nemesis” sibling, “Ghost Empire,” finds the perfect balance between melody and ingenuity. Make no mistake; this record has heavy groove and towering double-bass. It’s unsettling that Caliban and other veterans are persecuted with the proverbial scarlet letter, ”metalcore.” There is richness in “Ghost Empire” that reviews are passing over; blindly missing its texture.

It’s safe to say that their departure from Adam D propelled them foreword. After doing Undying Darkness, Awakening, and Say Hello To Tragedy, Adam’s influence became too linear. Marc Gortz took the helm on “I Am Nemesis,” creating a rigid cutting sound. Enter “Ghost Empire” - the record I’ve waited for Caliban to create.

The compelling parts of “Ghost Empire” are minimally on the surface, but layered beneath. This is the crux reviewers are missing, and what I enjoy chewing on. I’m compelled to participate in each track.

Everything Caliban was missing previously is inherent on this record. “King” shows the band using violins or cellos during the end bridge. “Cries and Whispers” uses a twang that at first seems a bit southern for the band, but its delivery amplifies the mood. Caliban pushed the identity of “sound” particularly with “I am Ghost.” Its theatrical ambiance makes the song transcend “noise” to sensation. The metaphorical triptych of “I am Nemesis/I am Ghost/ I am Rebellion is a perfect way to extend themes. “nEbel” is to “Dein Reich” as “I am Ghost/I Am Rebellion” are to “Edge of Black.” In “Memorial” – Father! I have to say Goodbye to keep myself alive; in “I am Ghost” – Father! Forgive me for I have sinned.” I love these bridges to previous works. Few too bands dismiss their work and consider them closed chapters. Caliban finds numerous ways to leak “I am Nemesis” into “Ghost Empire;” it’s surreal.

The cleans are used as tools, not just “sections of a song.” Their delivery fits the genre but with a freshness. They can be short, non-existent, or at the very end. “Good Man” halts the experience briefly with a heartfelt bookend acoustic build with tuned down snares. “My Vertigo” concludes the record brilliantly. Its rhythm and groove makes the track feel denser. Towards the end, an orchestral bridge is briefly implemented that enhances its impact concluding the album.

“I Am Rebellion” is the only song where I lose focus. It’s not a bad song, but it gets a bit repetitive. Thankfully this time there are no slow ballads. You may be briefly caught off guard thinking a song is ‘going’ to be a ballad – but none exist.

Caliban crafted a dynamic experience. There is too much I can comment on. “Ghost Empire” mood is dramatic and at times, emotional. It’s at this point I see Caliban focusing more on the drama of sound, rather than playing as loud and noisy as possible. This is Caliban's ninth LP, and like a black cat I wouldn't complain if it killed them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2014 1:10 PM PST

Restoring Force
Restoring Force
Offered by Media Megalodon
Price: $9.81
100 used & new from $0.67

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Still YDG?, January 28, 2014
This review is from: Restoring Force (Audio CD)
Of Mice & Men return with a crunch and bite sure to tip scales for listeners. Restoring Force is the child of band reinvestigating influences. It won’t take but the first track “Public Service Announcement,” to hear the sonic transformation. Gone are songs exceeding 4:54 min. Each track is relatively half a fraction over 3 minutes outside of “Bones Exposed.” This keeps the momentum and immediacy of the songs fresh. None are overburdened by length. The band’s “angsty, in your face rock n‘ roll vibe,” is clean and technical.

Their decision to recruit David Bendeth was wise. His expansive and colorful resume speaks for itself. With bands like Underoath, A Day to Remember, In Flames, Breaking Benjamin, and more recently Bring Me the Horizon under his belt; David serves to focus the band. Whether you argue his work aims mainstream or “radio-friendly”, there’s no question his craft produces sharp results.

Obviously the debate is ongoing whether Austin is “cloning” Oli or the vibe of “Sempiternal.” Accusations like this need to be deciphered. Like-minded musicians share opinions and tastes. Austin an Oli are friends; David Bendeth Mixed and mastered Sempiternal; there’s bound to be similarities. More and more I read interviews with bands going for a “less visceral, more theatrical sound.” This ultimately defines the prominence of “Sempiternal.” Either fans want brutality or ingenuity. An album like Sempiternal and now Restoring Force, are latched to whichever taste you categorize with.

The residue of a “Sempiternal-esque Atmosphere” are a welcomed enhancement. Tracks “Glass Hearts” and “Identity Disorder” hint at synth programing. This pushes atmosphere and soundscape. What helps fit these into place are compliments like “You Make Me Sick.” This aggressive hop and bounce track is more akin to their work from the Deluxe Edition of the Flood. The climax reminds me of Austin’s long winded scream from “Ben Threw.”

Austin isn’t the main voice of the album. Aaron has more if not the same amount of vocals. He doesn’t seem like the “clean vocalist” entry on a Wikipedia personnel page - but an actual cohesive part of the songwriting. “Would You Still Be There” demonstrates Austin taking a back seat for emphasis, leaving the majority to Aaron.

The theatrics of “Another You” are powerfully resonating. It’s a confluence of multiple styles that OM&M seamlessly weave together. “Glass Hearts’s” intensity of metal-core infused groove may be Restoring Force’s swan-song. Two minutes into “Break Free” and Austin seems to have put on a Tool or Chevelle record.

Repetition isn’t devoid from the album. There are times when songs begin and finish the same - making them too linear. Another may be its longevity. Like a fine wine, “The Flood” has made lasting appeal with fans. Like most, it’s tough for us to get over “that one album.” But Restoring force shows the youth of a band taking chances. My main critique was my “Book End” prediction. A month before the album was released the tracklist came out. I looked at the last entry and thought to myself, “Hmm, I hope it isn’t an acoustic song but something that brings the record to a climactic high and lifts me off my feat.” It was too expected that “Space Enough to Grow” would be an acoustic send-ff. I understand it mirrors “Public Service Annoucement”, but it left a sour taste as if it was competing with “When You Can’t Sleep at Night.” I like the song very much and it’s calmness, but I feel its placement closing the listener’s experience is a bit droll. I mean, this is what you send the audience home with after a 3 year hiatus from the last LP. If Restoring Force had one final crescendo I think it may have solidified the experience more.

My gripes aside; this record's hints of other genres’ DNA is a welcome fit. OM&M are three LP’s deep and already crowning major changes. This record will become the one fans mention the more they improve and develop their sound. In the future I foresee “Oh! they used a bit of that on Restoring Force,” or “they expanded that element since Restoring Force.” Restoring force is a melting-pot engineered and choreographed to allow future experimentation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2014 8:57 AM PST

No Place
No Place
Price: $8.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sensation of a Concept Driven Record, November 4, 2013
This review is from: No Place (MP3 Music)
A Lot Like Birds return with sharp ambition to create "No Place." Not so much a departure, rather, an enhancement from 2011's "Conversation Piece." Everything you've come to appreciate about ALLB is evident, but with a more diversity. In fact, there is nothing passive about "No Place." It is a record built on intricacies and technical engineering. ALLB use texture to compel listeners, but comparatively impose paranoia.

In an interview, Cory described the record in terms of "rooms." Each track is a room that represents a space of "never quite feeling at home." The hierarchy of alienation is apparent throughout "No Place." The thought-provoking element is that - it's a paradox. The record sounds beautiful, but the lyrics and atmosphere are unnerving. This establishes a premise "Conversation Piece" was missing. "No Place" is a conceptual album that is executed by lengthy soundscapes. Even with songs breaching the seven-minute mark, ALLB manage to maintain the unexpected. The twists and turns, shifting pace, and layered sounds make the songs seem shorter than they are. They are "songs within songs"

"In Trances" initiates the atmosphere by having nearly the entire track be written in metaphors. Dialogue from spoken word to faint screams, "The glass went only inches into my skin but only inches was enough. And once the guilt has had its fill, only then will the animals eat me as well." Stampeding off the intro track, "No Nature" creates internal turmoil "..And live this one final night in my desolate room. The room inside my head, ceilingless, fulfilling." The uncanny "No Nurture" is reminiscent of big record closers but is track oddly three. The gradual build and tone of the song goes against the common norm, making the listen somewhat out of place. I found it alarming at first but then grasped ALLB's strategy - to make me feel uneasy. The wavering pace of the first three tracks destabilizes the table.

The transient fade at the end of "Next to Ungodliness" evokes an all too relative question, "I looked in the mirror and said "I hope I die"? I know you keep pretending." "Connector" quietly introduces itself, as "Myth of Lasting Symphony" serves as an integral crux of the record. The projection of Cory's lyrics are bitter, but honest. Coming to terms with the loss of home, "Hand Over Mouth, Over and Over" reconciles the mistakes of repetition. As an added texture, the end sounds as if footsteps are heard from above - similar to being called upstairs by parents. "I've come this far with a different map in each of my heads, they're drawn completely from memory." Words from "Kuroi Ledge" that elicit the foreign autumn air.

"No Place's" story arc reaches its pinnacle at "Shaking of the Frame." I would argue that this track may indeed be ALLB's swan song. The reverberating introduction brings the record full circle. The band members create a profound landscape while Cory and Kurt populate the scene with dense lyrics. "May the room with no purpose forever be closed. Although we left in a panic, I took a look back at the house, saw it turn on its axis and vanish." I'm always humbled by the poetic nature of ALLB's approach. Cory's written hand has a graphic convention that most are missing. The combination of Ben, Joe, Mike & Mike's talent extend the visual playing field. With a strong emphasis on sound design rather than commercial streamline; ALLB have crafted a rich listening experience. "No Place" demands numerous play-throughs and your undivided attention because THEY created it that way. The reward of finding the hidden textures is priceless. I ordered this record on vinyl just to hear the subtle nuances my iPod cannot. The closing statement creates such mental friction for me "It survived! It Survived!" It's ALLB's strength to provoke questions and keep me coming back for more.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2016 8:35 AM PST

Indicud (Edited Version)
Indicud (Edited Version)

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Boys Unite!, April 17, 2013
Kid Cudi has become a staple of musical ingenuity. It should come to no surprise to anyone that his work is easily scrutinized. With two studio albums and an enjoyable side project (wzrd), has Cudder lost steam or just beginning to stoke the fire?

Indicud is advertised as the "rebirth" of Kid Cudi. In more ways that one, I'm pleased the publicity went this route. It is interesting to see most reviewers only critiquing the bass drops, lyrics, and surface material. AT ITS CORE, Indicud is "Vampiric." Not in a twilight and interview with a vampire way - but in the essence of sound design, it is incredibly nocturnal. Which would make sense because Kid Kudi persistently posted FB photos in the wee hours of the night of him in the studio. Cudi is the artist you listen to traveling on the highway at 2 AM. You instantly plug into the matrix and drift off. The album's hierarchy revolves around this concept whether Cudi or his fans know it. At the albums height, Cudi acts like a possessor, and at its lowest a pedestrian.

This may come off a bit strange but, the bass work and sound design is reminds of Linkin Park's "Session" and Team Sleep's "Passportal." Not that they are directly connected or that I even that like Linkin Park. But they do have relative sounds. I dare you to put on "Unf***ittable" then immediately go to youtube and listen to the two songs I just mentioned. I'm sure most would go, "Hmpf, I guess a little." Cudi experiments a bit with vocals, often times singing which, to me, is refreshing. I find those sections not as melodramatic as people perceive. I find they support Cudi's theme and push the archetypal sound of the record.

"The Resurrection of Scott Medscudi, The Flight of the Moon Man", and especially "New York City Rage Fest" reinforce my subjective analysis of the nocturne. I enjoy these tracks in terms of the sound and tone they carry throughout the album. TROSM is dense in ambiance complimented by the appropriate "Home Alone" sample. "Solo Dolo Pt. II" could easily be supporting music to a Tarantino karate flick. "Girls" starts with a Tron-esque sample suspended by a heavy drop. "NYCRF" has an eerie bounce to it, that would please the people in the club from the opening of Blade. "Burn Baby Burn" is salacious as much as it is infectious. "Lord of the Sad & Lonely" again, has an ambient undertone paralleled by Cudi's great songwriting. "Cold Blooded" is easily my favorite track on the record. The brief, yet tense intro transitions into great bouncing rhythms. It is a short song in an of itself, not overstaying its welcome. "TFOTMM" comes full circle, returning back to the static noise of the night. Crickets and other insects buzzing about, supplemented by Cudi's 80s-eqsue tones makes it truck full of content. Cant you see it, either intro or outdo tracks to a classic horror flick? I didn't realize until I had my headphones on that you can actual hear twigs breaking. This gives the illusion of wandering about, with no particular destination. Just lost in the eco-system of the night; evolving or devolving into something inhuman.

We all know that "Man on the Moon" was/is outstanding and seemingly "Day N' Night" won't be topped. But I enjoy the fact that, that album exists in that time period, in Cudi's chronology. It today's era, its difficult for an artist to please everyone. Is the album perfect? No. Are there songs that seem like filler? Yes. However, the album as a whole is a satisfying entry to his legacy. I appreciate the fact that Indicud is different simply because, I don't want the same record 3 times. To grow and learn, you need to experiment - how else would you know what is effective? Cudi is firmly aware of this concept. Indicud is an enjoyable listen especially if your willing to sink your teeth in. There isn't that one song that is at poignant as "Day N' Night" but I'm glad. If i had 12 "Day N' Nights" the original would lose its value and become opaque. All together, Indicud plays with my sensitivities giving me an array of visuals that seem lost today. I'm pleased Cudi digs his nails beneath the surface value and tries to project something more than just "engineered sound." This creates layers and depth. If you understand this concept, let the nocturnal plasma of Indicud fill your veins.

Devil Son
Devil Son
Price: $6.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road Gets Thinner..., April 8, 2013
This review is from: Devil Son (MP3 Music)
Devil Son

Greeley Estates are back with "Devil Son." The contrasting followup to November's, "Narrow Road". Devil Son parallel's the heavy car crash Narrow Road, with jarring cleans and an enhanced haunting platform. In my Narrow Road review, I mentioned the fact that "tone" is GE's best quality. Particularly with tracks like "Lennox House" and "Doomsday" were/are rich in narrative, ambiance, and texture. I made the mistake of thinking The Narrow Road couldn't get any thinner.

Immediately, Devil Son is different. It is supposed to be! The original plan of compacting both albums was abandoned to allow more songs, variant tones, and collateral formulas. If Narrow Road is the aforementioned "car-crash" of brutality, Devil Son in the slow deteriorating decline that gnaws at your neck. It is the creeping doubt in the back of your head. GE torque and twist your psyche, playing sick mind-games with you. Most songs detract from standard formulas to give each of the seven tracks their own identity. They suspend you in cliffhangers, unsure if songs are over (Cut Me Out) to create tension.

If The Narrow Road was the landscape; we as an audience fill the shoes of Devil Son. The Narrow Road personified the journey, whereas Devil Son personifies the individual. Think of the Devil Son as character wreathed in inner turmoil traveling along a path (aka Narrow Road). His/her internal struggle (Devil Son) manifests itself through a tapering path (Narrow Road). This concept is followed-through by tone and creativity. Devil Son anchors a chilling atmosphere to sheering vocals. Ryan is by far at his best here. He can regulate gorgeous cleans then immediately plunge into bellowing growls.

We also have a geographical continuation. At the end of Doomsday, there was stark imagery of a southern bog populated by missing remnants, CSI crime scene, muck, an a house akin to Texas Chainsaw. The opening track (Devil Son) uses specific instruments to remind us where we are; the south. Not to mention it raises suspense for the rest of the EP. The orchestral opening of "Marionette" is complimented by empowering lyrics such as "I'm not afraid to leave you, I'll be gone by morning." Ryan mentions a lonely road as well as flames. "Turn the Night Away" has a sharp narrative including a deafening bridge. GE use their strengths from NR to create one of the heaviest breakdowns I've ever heard. If your fists and feet don't stomp in unison, you might need to see a doctor. I'm entranced by the illusions generated in this song. The delivery of Ryan's vocals in this track make me understand the sensation of each individual word. The outro uses a chilling representation of a child's "got to sleep" sound.

"The World We Used to Know" has staggering rhythms shades of old-school Greeley. The guitars sheer and reel in tandem while drums provide the bounce. Most surprising is "The Killing Fields." YOU DO NOT SEE THIS ONE COMING! It tricks you right up until the end. I want you all to feel the satisfaction of this song without my analysis. GO! GET! IT! NOW! "Porcelain" is the calm, beautiful malaise that cloaks the EP. The song builds and builds until the climactic ending. "Cut Me Out" is musical genius. If there is one song on here or on both EP's that is just plain terrifying it is this one. It gives the Halloween theme a run for its money. If you can remember back in July when GE made a teaser video for both eps, it had static noise, and unnerving voices. You couldn't make out what they were, but you knew they were voices. Within the first few seconds, GE used the teaser trailer in "Cut Me Out." It is NUMBING. And - it's not the last time you hear it. Ryan belches the words "Cut Me Out" and objectifies himself. It's a serrated edge of metal dynamism. It has an incredible twist you don't see coming, an pierces on a carnal level. It concludes Devil Son in a groundbreaking manor that leaves you desensitized.

I've waited patiently for Devil Son, and I promise it was worth the wait. Combine both Narrow Road and Devil Son together and you have one of the most worthwhile listen in recent memory. GE struck a perfect balance with Devil Son; heavy meets ambient. The tempo is perfect and is not a linear listen. There are twists and turns at every corner. You are at the mercy of GE. They are one of the few remaining bands pushing sound design, tone, and hierarchy of themes. Together, both EPs are their crescendo.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2013 10:33 AM PDT

Disarm The Descent (Special Edition CD+DVD)
Disarm The Descent (Special Edition CD+DVD)
Price: $14.99
52 used & new from $6.62

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RETURN TO FORM!, April 2, 2013
Return To Form!

Killswitch Engage are the brahma bull of what is now known as Metalcore. In 2002, it was just "music." That same year, the industry seemed to be eclipsed by some major titles (Shadows Fall, etc.) including "Alive Or Just Breathing." In a strange way, AOJB is what "Fall of Ideals" is to All That Remains. It's a timeless record, that in any given situation, a seasoned KSE fan can put on their iPod and be transported back more than a decade. "What is this nonsense, I'm gonna go rip Alive or Just Breathing," is a common expression especially since I am from MA. It's and archetype many have followed, tried to replicate, and spawned an over saturated genre. It should come to no surprise that everyone is putting all their hopes and dreams in the prodigal son, Disarm the Descent.

People will always have their own opinions regarding Howard and Jesse. Objectively, I can't quantify who is better. Jesse's vocal range is completely different than Howard's. Alive or Just Breathing is/was his swan song. However, the best window to find answers may reside in KSE's 2005, "World Ablaze" DVD. Particular songs like "Self Revolution, Temple From Within," and "Life to Lifeless" showcase Howard's delivery of Jesse's material. I will let you all stand firm on your opinion, but in mine - Jesse is a better lyricist, Howard is NOT a better singer, but a MORE DYNAMIC vocalist.

DTD has incredible buzz! It IS everywhere! It's as if there will be a cataclysmic shift in the industry that will shake the fabrications of music. It's almost overwhelming. What some people fail to realize is that, it's been more than a decade since AOJB released. Bands have been innovating the genre, some soar, others plummet. Regardless, Disarm the Descent isn't a fatality on the proverbial "kombat" of music. Does that mean it's bad - NO! It does justice to their name and restores faith to an exhausted genre. Lyrically, Disarm the Descent heads back to empowering words instead of mushy gushy love songs over-saturated in KSE's Self Titled release. The interior strength Jesse's provoke's is difficult not to attach to. His performance on this record is his best catalogue of songs. Jesse can make you shrill as well as emotional. Disarm the Descent has incredible hooks, intensity, but at times, can get repetitive.

The album wastes no time thrusting you into a barrage of sharp riffs, sheering screams, and a hint of groove metal (thanks to Andy Sneap). What's readily apparent is the haste at which Jesse delivers the hooks and choruses. Over the years he's ironed out his voice and gives fans immediacy. "The Hell In Me" is one hell of a thrash opener, followed by the melodic powerhouse " Beyond the Flames." Here, Jesse showcases his improved harmonies sandwiched between ripping verses. It may be my favorite on the record. The solo on "New Awakening" isn't drawn out, it's quick and harsh, although the song is par for the course. Another personal favorite, "A Tribute to the Fallen" has all the ingredients I love about KSE. It hearkens back to AOJB with soaring choruses, thrash, underlying melodies, anthemic lyrics, and top notch performances by all members. This is the one song that stuck with me for my first 10 listens, and still continues to ensnare me with its rhythm. Then - all of a sudden - "Turning Point" hits; bellowing opening riffs and deep chugging demonstrate KSE's depth/growth. "All That We Have" has a distinct staggering bounce. At times, it sounds like pots and pans falling that ironically sound natural. "You Don't Bleed For Me" jumps back into classic KSE fashion while using an entertaining spoken word interlude. "The Call" is heavy and anthemic with groove-esque riffs.

With all these elements I've just stated, it's difficult to gripe about the record because WE WANT it to be this "end all be all thing." But it's not, it's a solid record from a solid band. It is up to you do identify if DTD is better than AOJB. Remember nostalgia doesn't mean better. These guys are tighter, and more creative than in previous albums. The downfall is that, you know what to expect after the first few songs. Killswitch does what Killswitch does best. But to quote another artist, "If you have 10 to 12 tracks on a record, don't waste your fans time with the same song after song?" This is appropriate for KSE because you get easily accustomed to the manor and flow of the album. The pacing is for the most part, linear. There aren't any real "OMG" surprises and twists you contemplate later. Strangely enough, the title track resides in one of the bonus tracks. I wish it replaced one of the other songs, to add continuity and it's more appropriate for the record. Nonetheless, Disarm the Descent is incredibly enjoyable for veteran KSE fans. Tight production, heightened level of intensity, and an inherent theme make Disarm the Descent a return to form. Disarm the Descent is a worthy Kombatant not brought here by chance.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2013 9:18 AM PDT

Price: $13.50
66 used & new from $4.36

46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LET THEM SING LET THEM SING!, April 2, 2013
This review is from: Sempiternal (Audio CD)
Bring Me the Horizon are back with their pivotal follow up to 2010's There is a Hell. Even with cascading riffs, powerful vocals, and bouncing choruses, Sempiternal enlists an underlining layer of trickery. Isolating these moments takes many listens, but inevitably adds incredible depth.

Sempiternal is Oli's crescendo. In an industry plagued by "chug chug's" and angsty teens trying to sound angry, Oli evokes the actual tone of the word. For instance, when he says "...Can You Fix the broken," or "...Throw Me to the Flames, Watch Me Burn," we as an audience understand, sonically, their sensation. The delivery and distortion of Oli's voice generates tangible visions of the lyrics. This furthers our attachment to the work because that "is how it would sound and feel." It's not sound for the sake of sound, but emotion for the sake of tone. You see hundreds of cliche lyric videos on youtube trying to sound mad, instead of harmonizing the words with their enunciation's. Oli confronts this concept head on and nails it.

A producer should always take bands in a new direction, in terms of sound that is. No one record should replicate another. The most meticulous engineered album can still fall victim to sameness. Fans identify this easily and see it as a sidestep or "b-sides." It's the subtle anxiety and confidence in the producer that creates something definitive. Terry Date (whose list goes on an on, including Deftones) has a particular style. Deftones are unique because they are heavy, yet incredibly transient. Their archetype of sound can put listeners in a trance, while at the same time explode. They're the only band to force fans to exist at an imbalance, or balance depending on how you see it. Sempiternal flirts with this concept on its sleeve. Thanks to Terry Date, he and BMTH barricade listeners into some of the most emotional and driven songs in the genre.

All members step their game up, making sure nothing sounds cluttered or stagnant. The genius of the songwriting comes in these "huge" moments. Similar to Pink Floyd, BMTH center on one or two key moments in each song to make it sound monumental alla - "Empire." They're like signatures, sometimes enhanced through careful gang vocals or ambient spoken word interludes (Can You Feel My Heart). Instruments drop in/out to isolate what THEY want YOU to hear/feel. The most prominent of course, Jordan Fish's keys. Not to mention the full orchestra BMTH had in the studio recording with them. Cellos, violins, and an expert programmer reinforce the Sempiternal's identity of sound. At this level, it becomes art.

The overall pacing of Sempiternal is flawless. BMTH control the tempo, offering needed reprieves before plunging back into the fray. These intervals, although a bit slower are not short on impact ("Shadow Moses" into "And the Snakes Start to Sing", then "Seen it All Before").

Lyrically, there is an overall story arc. Each song is a tributary leading to the overall narrative. For us, the audience, it's incredibly satisfying to perceive these themes and create individual meaning. Oli starts with the most base idea (heart), then cascades into a myriad of faith, deception, hope, a sick sense of optimism resulting in an inevitable implosion. I will dive into this later when I dissect each song.

"Can You Feel My Heart" functions anatomically, like circuitry of our hearts. Immediate electric bounces kicks off the record with a bang. Repeating riffs and musical cues amplify the track's reverberations. Oli's sick sense optimism is conveyed via dialogue and sound of the track. "The House of Wolves" introduces a bit of narrative driven by metaphors (Wolves/Jackals), referring to their house as "...burning like a thousand suns." If you care to take it a step further, the thousand suns is an allusion to spiritual enlightenment. So it's as if he wrought this search for "truth" upon himself, even though it's a pipe-dream. "Empire (Let Them Sing)" is the conflict/resolution of its predecessor. The song builds to a massive isolated moment, then all instruments drop out to emphasize the "LET THEM SING LET THEM SING." Oli again, using wolves to push theme as well as a possible illusion to The Wizard of Oz (..."you live like a house in a hurricane.") "Sleepwalking" is a melodic powerhouse with one of the most demanding choruses I've heard in recent memory. You can actually envision an entire theatre of people screaming "It's like I'm Sleepwalking." "Go to Hell For Heaven's Sake" is unreal. The sick, desperate, chorus is jarring. The climactic ending of "GTHFHS" has Oli repeating the title, then completely drops out to "Shadow Moses." The intro offers a pleasant tempo shift, before thrusting back into the fray. What is even more dissonant is the ambient outro transitioning into one, if not the BEST song, I've ever heard - "And the Snakes Start To Sing." Cued by Jordan's keys, the emotions run rampant. This song is akin to Deftones' work. The tempo shifts, the harmonies kick in, the drums pulsating, and then - "Ive lost apart of me..." and "Worms come out of the Woodwork..." This eerie, perverse narrative should remind the entire genre to reconsider the infrastructure of their songs. The pace builds, all instruments drop out, Oli's spoken word hits, then bass pumps, "If you can't soar with the eagles, Then don't fly with the flock..." Then sheering vocals, pulsating instruments, and a climactic rhythm end the song. "Seen it All Before" picks up pace including a massive ending, while "Anti-vist" drives the anthemic attributes home. "Crooked Young" offers the last fast-paced song and serves as an appropriate bridge before we are capsized. "Hospital of Souls" is similar to "ATSSTS." Here the live orchestra are in the forefront. Oli's confronts his inner turmoil, absolving his fears in spoken word. The gravity of this song finishes the story arc as well as resolves the tone. There isn't one person who doesn't throw their fist 5 times, stomp their feet, and lift their hands in the air when Oli says "THROW ME TO THE FLAMES!" The sheer enunciation of words causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I almost tear up to this song its so jarring. Especially near the end when Oli's dissonant/ambient "Hold me close don't let go," hits. What most are missing, at the final climax of the record this song cuts out. "Hold me close dont let go, in this hospital for SO..." Which to us fans, Oli's journey went unfinished. Something IS left. It was an inevitable deterioration. The subtle cut out makes us go "Wait what!?" We are left exasperated, but also in a cliffhanger. We aren't sure if all is resolved.

For those of you who made it through my entire review, I commend you. This album is too important for some review to be a paragraph (cough Revolver, Metal Hammer, Rocksound). It's their job to fit it in a small uniform space. It's my free time to me to cover as much ground as needed. Sempiternal houses the content we've been missing. The album is almost to raw. At no time am I passive listening to it. Even the bonus tracks are substantial. They are poignant in and of themselves. Sempiternal IS the definitive "SOUND" (not metalcore/music) experience.

Living Creatures
Living Creatures
Price: $8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIVING CREATURES!, March 25, 2013
This review is from: Living Creatures (MP3 Music)
Stolas are a supergroup composed of pure talent. What makes "Living Creatures" exceptional aren't just the technical prowesses, but the fact that these guys are having fun. Beneath the riffs and poignant lyrics, are dudes simply have a good time recording. It is easily identifiable as well as satisfying to attach to. Because they're having fun, we the audience can dive right in and feel comfortable. "Living Creatures" doesn't hold your hand, allowing you to immediately accommodate its rhythm. If you've followed their studio updates, you see them all cranking out tunes and working hard, but more importantly enjoying the company of friends. They aren't trying to break records or sales, just put something out that's based on the comradery. Ironically, what we get are ten tracks laced with metaphors, powerful vocals, ingenious songwriting, and bouncy yet hardcore riffs. "Living Creatures" flirts with empowering material as well as ambient tone, capitalizing on both.

If you're familiar with DGD and A lot Like Birds, you should feel right at home here. But comparing Stolas to them isn't fair since each has their own sound and patterns of writing. Nonetheless, Stolas have crafted a lofty ride. Songs designed to hit with a punch (Destroyer) do justice on the cortex, while others take cues from the likes of Deftones (Medusa). But even comparing Stolas to Deftones is unfair, their unique sound and engineering are difficult to pin down. Stolas sounds like...Stolas. But the hidden gems are surprising to discover. Moments of soft ambitions collide with some scathing crescendos (Our Last Night on Earth). Their trickery is what's captivating - gestating speed and thrash licks, transitioning into well placed calm sections (Time & the Sun, Destroyer). These moments are heavy, yet evocative(similar to the way Deftones operates) - huge heavy moments propagated by dreamy, transient sections.

The list of guest appearances adds even more substance to "Living Creatures." Stolas designed these songs to play to the strengths of the particular vocalist. They're appropriate for the tone of the record as well as signatures. As if they said, "Okay, We need the sound of Kurt Travis for this section because his voice can carry the tone." They're not used as filler or simply to say, "Hey this dude is on here." Jonny Craig's delivery in "Panic" should have the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, while Tillian's on "Year of the Light" demands a boisterous sing along. Donovan Melero's incredible pitch in "Circuit Theory" is nothing short of perfect. The crescendo of "Captured Light" is enhanced with Cory Lockwood, capping off the record with one final barrage.

It's rare nowadays to find truly creative lyrics. More often than not, they are a shallow entity of records. That's not to say bands aren't electric and get the blood pumping. But truly thought provoking lyrics are somewhat of a lost cause. Stolas interweave clever lyrics, metaphors, and stark imagery to adhere to the overall narrative. Each song is a component of a larger picture. Sometimes large geographical locations serve as metaphors, or ghosts become haunting phantoms that inevitably force change. Each track is laced with some illusion to further the idea of a "Living Creature." There is a heavy convergence at the end of "Captured Light" that resolves the arc of the entire album.

Carlo, Sergio, RJ, and Jason worked hard to give fans something they could sink their teeth into. "Living Creatures" is a dense, enjoyable listen with moving lyrics. Sonically, the ten tracks provide enough content to consider their structure and art form. Ladies and gentlemen, "Let's Pull The Strings..."

The Narrow Road
The Narrow Road
Price: $6.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capsized, November 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Narrow Road (MP3 Music)
The Death of the Greeley Estates harmonized heavy/melodic and infectious thematic elements that pushed audiences sensitivities(Broken/Leave the Light On). This is the premiere quality I enjoy most about GE - they evoke tone. They transcend today's monotonous songwriting by pushing instrumental boundaries and focusing on SOUND. In my DOTGE review (which can be found in my profile), I praised it's wealth of haunting ambiguities. It sunk my teeth far into its atmosphere and still find new things to explore. I thought I'd heard it all - but like the Event Horizon, Greeley Estates have returned and brought something back with them.

The Narrow Road/Devil Son split is anchored to the fans' needs. GE pays close attention to what their audience wants to hear. What we get is by far their most heavy, diverse, and haunting experience yet. Those still compelled by the Michael Meyers's theme will feel right at home. Just as Laurie Strode convinces herself he's dead, the camera pans to his face - eyes open - panic. GE sculpted a paralyzing EP.

The Narrow Road is HEAVY - more so the No Rain No Rainbow. Their production and engineering of the EP is immaculate. The album is fierce but retains clarity. Not one second sounds muddy. Brandon, Dave, and Kyle's intricate guitar work is the best in GE's catalogue. The technical guitar work hits like a kick in the gut. They've plunged further and further into making sound. There are some parts that would give Rob Zombie enough footing to make another slasher movie (Lenox House). Chris's drums are the heartbeat of the album. They compliment the guitar work while retaining anthemic qualities. Certain touchstones make Narrow Road his best work; like the one-two punch in the beginning of Doomsday. In a sickly way, the album sounds like pots and pans falling with a strict emphasis on coherence.

Ryan is by far one of the best vocalists, period. The sick desperation spewing from his lunges is just gold. His vocals are incredibly tangible. Most times, vocalists just record vocals without considering their enunciation of particular words. In Ryan's case, my emotional response doesn't come from his choice of words, but his delivery. He's able to take the definition of a word and show audiences how it feels ("dont let fear take hold of you, you can feel it coming, it claws at your heels"). Ryan's vocals fuse perfectly with the eery ambiance the instrumentals evoke(The Narrow Road). Other times the instruments cut out to emphasize the tone of particular words like in Watch it Burn.

There's a dense atmosphere laced throughout The Narrow Road. Doomsday will be my anchor. After the "Dun Dun Dun" drum work by Chris we're plunged into illusions(not the only time). I'd have to say, the beginning although simple, is my favorite part of Chris's work on here. It's just so fast and there's no hesitation. It introduces the song in the best way. Afterwords we're given apocalyptic lyrics that would have Rick Grimes shaking in his boots ("dirt on your shovels and sweat on your brows, you'll be digging all night at that pace, but you wont find any bodies
they've been taken away in the night)." The song sounds menacing and yet provides stark visuals; I picture a phlegm-greenish bog. The song sounds like what it's like to wade through waist-high muck and filth. As the song progress its tempo shifts to a near crawl and Chris's drums hit once, then a few seconds pass, then another. It's evokes a slow drudge through swamps. Coming full circle - this is the definitive quality about GE, their sound design. It concludes the EP with the creeping anxiety that more is coming.

Greeley Estates created twenty-five minutes of psychological warfare. Never before have I experienced overwhelming sensations of adrenaline and terror. This makes the wait for Devil Son all the more enjoyable. I'm glad they've split it into two parts because neither will sound alike. I'd rather the separate visions of two distinct EP's. I hope Devil Son will take me on an entirely different ride. The Narrow Road feeds George Romero to the hordes.
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