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Helpful Votes: 15




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Fluorescent Youth
Fluorescent Youth
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrics set them apart, November 15, 2013
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This review is from: Fluorescent Youth (MP3 Music)
They earn their fifth star on the basis of their lyrics. Don't get me wrong, everything else on the album is solid, but I don't like to give out five stars unless an album has something to set itself apart. They have an ear for the language, for starters, so you never find yourself thinking the lyrics are overly trite or silly or used awkward wording for the sake of making a rhyme. But beyond that, there's something incredibly relatable and uplifting about the songs. "When It Won't Save You" (about valuing friendships over material wealth) and "Illumaniti" (a sort of modern day power-ballad) are my favorites, but there's a lot to like here, and it's a great hard rock album to listen to when you just want to feel a little better about life.


Hypernova
Hypernova
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Metal + Techno Done Right, November 15, 2013
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This review is from: Hypernova (MP3 Music)
The Browning is 'electronicore' - heavy metal mixed with lots of electronic/techno music. They're not the first to feature this combination, but they're by far the best I can remember at mixing the two in a way that totally, 100% works. I've heard other albums that are mostly metal with just a little keyboard backing, and some with techno parts and metal parts that never really merge. The Browning have the combination down perfectly - there's no mistaking the electro/dubstep elements, but they work incredibly well alongside chugging metal riffs and screaming vocals, and everything sounds like it belongs there and adds something to the tracks. Certainly different, and maybe not for purists. But it may be THE best album out there for anyone interested in the metal-electro combination.


Disarm The Descent (Special Edition)
Disarm The Descent (Special Edition)
Price: $11.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 Parts KSE + 1 Part ToG, April 3, 2013
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With a new release from a long-standing band, it's tempting to compare it to the band's previous albums. A better comparison is to "Hymn of a Broken Man" from Times of Grace, a side project from two years ago by two current KSE members. That album had a few heavy moments but tended to be more contemplative, with a theme of optimism and struggling through adversity (making it rather more cheerful than the usual metal.)
"Disarm the Descent" seems to marry that uplifting idea with the more fast-paced, brutal sounds KSE is known for. The results are solid, even when they aren't spectacular. This is their first album since switching lead singers, and Jesse more than holds his own. And everyone else is in fine form as well. But putting it all together, there's too many songs that, for me, lack a certain killer instinct - KSE has done fast and intense, and they've done slow and extra-heavy, but too often the songs here stay between the two extremes. So everything is good but too many songs fail to leave a lasting impression, some of it blends together to be a bit samey, and a lot of songs start out great but fade towards the end.
That being said, the positive themes mean you can't help but feel good when listening to this album. And when everything does come together - good intensity and some extra guitar riffage/solos - the results are great. My highlights are "In Due Time", "Turning Point", and "Time Will Not Remain." Despite withholding a star from my overall rating, I'd highly recommend it - it's a solid album overall, and there's likely to be at least one or two songs that'll really speak to you and resonate as much as anything else you've ever heard.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2013 8:34 PM PDT


Black Out The Sun
Black Out The Sun
Price: $6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aged to Perfection, March 27, 2013
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This review is from: Black Out The Sun (MP3 Music)
Part of what makes Sevendust one of my favorite bands (other than the fact that they've remained excellent through over fifteen years and now nine studio albums) is their ability to merge good, chunky heavy metal with some soulful singing and songwriting and just a bit of brutality. Maybe the balance isn't always perfect ("Alpha" was a little more brutal, "Chapter VII" was more mellow, etc.) But no one does it better than Sevendust can, and they're in fine form on "Black Out The Sun".
If anything, I may look back after a few more listenings and find this to be their best album ever, because they manage to be at their most brutal some times, at their most soulful at others, without straying so far from their heavy metal core that it derails the album. "Faithless" is classic Sevendust at its finest. "Til Death", "Decay", "Dark AM", and "Murder Bar" have a little extra nastiness to them. "Black Out the Sun" and "Got a Feeling" let Lajon show off on vocals, though he's excellent throughout. Really, there's not a bad track on here and an awful lot to love.


American Capitalist [Explicit]
American Capitalist [Explicit]
Price: $5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A+ for effort, C for execution, February 28, 2013
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I feel a little bad for leaving a 3-star review for this, because 5FDP here is at least daring to be different. "Way of the Fist" and "War is the Answer" were unrelenting and brutal with a strong theme of war, violence, and fighting throughout. I thought they were great, but also that they've played that out and needed some change for the new album or risk being stagnant.
"American Capitalist" focuses more on class conflict than physical conflict, and the sound is different - slower, with more in common with hard rock and grunge than with heavy metal and metalcore. Again, not a bad thing, it's good for a band to change things up, but the results just don't work for me.
First of all, they might have gone too far from what they're good at in one step. I loved the opening onslaughts to the first two albums, 'Ashes' and 'Dying Breed', and there's nothing close to them here, except maybe '100 Ways to Hate'. It just doesn't sound like 5FDP, somehow. And that wouldn't be bad if the new stuff was just as good, but there's too many slow songs and most are let down by the lyrics. I don't even know what's going with "The Pride", and most of the other songs are good but not great and don't grab your attention. 'Coming Down' and 'Remember Everything' (the best of the slower songs) are the standouts for me.


Congregation of the Damned (Explicit)
Congregation of the Damned (Explicit)
Price: $6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Only as strong as its weakest link, February 28, 2013
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"Lead Sails Paper Anchor" was a surprise find for me - got it on sale just to try it, ended up really liking it. So I got "Congregation of the Damned" hoping for more of the same. And it's not a total disappointment there. Far from it, really. Atreyu is a solid heavy metal act, and everyone shows up in fine form here. Heavy guitars, blistering solos, great drums, solid vocals, and good variety throughout. Everything here's pretty good. Except the lyrics.
Ohh, the lyrics. 75% of the songs on the album are thinly veiled references to vampirism, and sometimes it just gets silly, like they were trying to write the unofficial soundtrack to the Twilight movies. And it KILLS me to listen to it, and kills most of the enjoyment I'd get from it, because it's just kind of silly and campy to me. A few songs are far enough away from that theme to be enjoyable. Some are just okay, but 'Coffin Nails' and 'Gallows' work pretty well and are the album highlights for me.
Bottom line - it's a good album, but the lyrics spoil a lot of the songs for me, and there's just so many other albums I have that I'd rather listen to now and don't have the same problem.


... In Shallow Seas We Sail
... In Shallow Seas We Sail
Offered by Collide Records
Price: $17.99
38 used & new from $0.27

5.0 out of 5 stars All about the vocals, February 22, 2013
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This is a weird album to review. There's a lot of genre hopping to be had here - hard rock, indie rock, emo, screamo, sometimes switching back and forth within the same song. At its best, it's an interesting sound unlike what you probably have on your playlist. At worst, it's muddled and unsatisfying because it's never exactly the kind of thing you want to listen to at the moment.
In the end, though, it's a fairly easy five-stars from me because this might have the best overall vocal performances of any album I have. Not many bands have multiple singers harmonizing at all, and none of them do it as well as Emery do on this album. The individual vocal performances don't disappoint, either, and the lyrics themselves have a poetic quality that make them good to listen to. It gets a little too emo for me at times, but even then you feel like they're written by someone with an ear for language who can do more than just putting random rhyming words together. The opener, "Cutthroat Collapse", might be enough to justify the album on its own. Definitely listen to the samples first to make sure it's a sound you like, but it's worth the listen - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

(Worth noting: I purchased this used from an Amazon affiliate. At the time of this writing the album costs $17 from Amazon itself, or $10 for the MP3 version. In my opinion that's a little steep for any album these days. I'm happy with my purchase, but might have been less happy if I had spent $17 on it.)


Chapters [+Digital Booklet]
Chapters [+Digital Booklet]
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $9.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and refreshing, February 22, 2013
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A lot of new metalcore bands try to stand out through electronic sounds, extensive post-production, dialing things down to make it more 'accessible', or some other tricks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Adestria is taking the opposite approach here - they try to stand out by returning to melodic metalcore basics and doing them better and harder than anyone else. With "Chapters" they overwhelmingly succeed. The sound is a familiar one, and Adestria isn't re-inventing the genre here, but they do it as well as anyone else today. They tend to be more melodic than heavy, with a few keyboards for effect but not so much that they take the focus away from where it belongs, great vocals and musicianship all around, and some solid lyrics that go beyond the fixation on darkness, death, and fighting together that dominated some older releases in the genre. A very interesting new band, and an album well worth a listen to any fan of the genre.


August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin' Hill, A Holiday Album
August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin' Hill, A Holiday Album

5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas. With intensity!, November 27, 2012
If you're already an ABR fan, you probably already got this album, so this review isn't for you. It's for people who want a Christmas album and don't mind hard rock/metal but don't know what to expect from this album. And it's an odd combination for the uninitiated to get in to - holiday classics done heavy-metal style, and not in a 'ha-ha-we're-so-ironic' way. This is a band that wants to show their Christmas spirit, and the fact that they're a metalcore act shouldn't forbid that.
The result is a set of songs you'll recognize but with more intensity than you're used to - but the right kind of intensity. 'Rudolph' (the only track with vocals) and 'Jingle Bells' have a somewhat goofy anarchic sound, 'Carol of the Bells' is darker and heavier, and other songs find comfortable sounds somewhere between the two extremes. 'Flurries' and 'Sleddin' Hill' are originals - you won't recognize them at first, but you'll learn to enjoy them as being a bit more laid back but not boring. Listen to the samples with an open mind, and you'll probably like what you hear.
Oh, and 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' alone is worth the price of admission. Just sayin'.


Life Cycles
Life Cycles
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A solid album with a unique sound, November 5, 2012
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This review is from: Life Cycles (MP3 Music)
This was a tough one for me to leave a review for - I wasn't sure if it deserved 4 or 5 stars. It's not a perfect album, and my main dislike is that the songs have a hard time distinguishing themselves from each other. There's just not a lot of deviation from the overall 'sound' of the album.
It gets full marks because maybe there's not much deviation from the overall sound, but oh what a sound it is. The Word Alive pull off one of the harder tricks in metal - they made something that sounds unique, something that doesn't sound like anything else I have in my playlist already. They use a lot of familiar parts you'll have heard elsewhere (mix of clean and screaming vocals, keyboards and electronic distortions, and sounding generally more discordant/anarchic than usual), but they mix it all into something that's their own. It's not always easy to stand out in the increasingly crowded metalcore scene, and these guys deserve credit for wildly succeeding at it here.


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