10/27/17 Release Reviews (Theory Of A Deadman, 10 Years, Powerman 5000, Winds Of Plague)
"Wake Up Call" By Theory Of A Deadman
Genre: Pop Rock
Wow. Theory Of A Deadman went...poppy. I'm not talking rock radio poppy. They were already well within that realm. I'm talking top 40 radio poppy. In the territory of the likes of Coldplay and Imagine Dragons. But without the artsy spin. The stark style switch is credited to frontman Tyler Connolly learning how to play piano before this record and writing songs on it compared to his usual guitar centered process. The result here is a pure pop album with live instruments. No distortion. No dirty rock and roll to be had. I'm not a pop guy but there are some solid tracks on here. Namely the big radio hit "Rx (Medicate)". The track takes on an acoustic, country vibe with some slight elements of hip hop and R&B in Connolly's vocal delivery. The track is among the best work TOAD has ever done and rightfully topped the billboard charts. Another highlight is opening track "Straight Jacket". A piano lead, pop and R&B song about being stuck in an emotionally taxing relationship. "G.O.A.T." is a motivational stomping anthem of positivity and "Po Mouth" is a humorous, upbeat track about being in a relationship with a person horrible with money and they taking advantage of their significant other for cash. These highlights aside the album is mostly downtempo, middling love songs. And that gets old after a while. While this fresh musical take is interesting for Theory Of A Deadman they're still very new to the style and may need some more time to perfect this musical avenue to make a complete, strong album.
Score: 2.5/5 - The new pop leaning sound is interesting to hear from an established radio rock band like TOAD. But the band needs more time to make the shoe fit if they choose to continue down this musical path
"New Wave" By Powerman 5000
Genre: Industrial Rock
Powerman 5000 is a band I haven't paid close attention to since my childhood years when they were a leading act during the peak of the nu metal and industrial metal era. Since then mainstream success has eluded them as rock and metal turned their attention to other styles. They've still been going strong despite frontman Spider One being the only original member and their latest effort, New Wave, is still well within the driving industrial style they made their name on. The quality however is another story. While Spider One has always relied on camp in much of his lyricism there was still catchy fun to be had. This record however with its oddball titles and lyrics in the likes of "David Fucking Bowie" and "Sid Vicious In A Dress" leave something to be desired. Musically the running theme throughout the album is unrealized potential. "Sid Vicious In A Dress" musically is a nice, driving, industrial punk song. But the vocal melody doesn't stick with you. "Get A Life" has a nice, heavy guitar groove in it's chorus but the verses are tame and lacking. "Thank God" is the most aggressive track of the album and stands out with its simple but direct composition. However its only 70 seconds long and is over so quick you forget about it. "No White Flags" is a genuinely likable track in contrast being a mellow ballad song. It's so different from the band's usual style and feels heartfelt with its message of staying strong in the face of adversity. New Wave overall is turn of the century style industrial rock by the numbers. All elements from this album listeners have heard before. And heard it done better. These tracks may be more fun in a live setting, but on record you'll forget what you heard way sooner than you should.
Score: 2/5 - New Wave lacks originality and inspiration. There's some interesting, catchy song ideas here and there but they're not fully realized and feel churned out without polish
"(How To Live) As Ghosts" By 10 Years
Genre: Alternative Metal/Post Grunge
Speaking of bands I haven't heard from in a while, Tennessee's 10 Years is another band that hasn't been in the mainstream much since their move to independent labels. Their style however is well intact with their accessible blend of alt metal, post grunge, and progressive rock. (How To Live) As Ghosts holds a theme of focusing on life rather than being fearful of death. It's a "rebirth" of sorts for the band with the return of two of the band's longtime members and writing their songs in a different method. With the vibes of positivity the band is enjoying this album sounds more upbeat than a lot of 10 Years' material and it feels like the group is genuinely having fun. The changes in theme and writing process come out in the quality of the record as the songs are plenty solid. Especially in the first half with tracks like "Novocaine" and "Burnout" having strong hooks and an interesting blend of atmosphere and directness. The heavy guitar work contrasts beautifully with the endearing melodic vocals of Jesse Hasek and per usual is a trademark of the group's sound. Much of the album dwells in atmospheric, clean guitar tones that turn into hard rock distortion that add power when needed. Hasek's vocal melodies are catchy at times but focus more on musicality than hooks adding a more artistic edge to songs. These elements keep 10 Years accessible but not cheesy. Long time fans of the band are sure to enjoy this record and this album is as good a point as any for others to discover or rediscover the band.
Score: 3/5 - 10 Years' distinct blend of melody and subtle guitar power sound strong with this record. It's not necessarily out of the box but is plenty enjoyable. The band's positive attitude that has come back to their craft can be felt and those feelings are conveyed well to the listener
"Blood Of My Enemy" By Winds Of Plague
Genre: Symphonic Metalcore
Winds Of Plague have been one of the more unique bands in the deathcore and metalcore world due to their use of symphonic elements in their sound. This mixture sounded a bit odd to me in description with symphonic elements in metal usually being used by more technically inspired genres closer to death metal and traditional metal. Not the blunt force delivery of hardcore leaning bands. For Winds Of Plague it creates a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to their sound with the traditional instrumentation being pure, old school hardcore and the symphonic elements rivaling the likes of Epica and Within Temptation. This makes frontman Johnny Plague's vocal delivery especially stand out in contrast with his raw, classic hardcore style.
This contrast works in the band's favor as I can't really pick another act that sounds quite like them. The band blends together melody and atmosphere very well with their raw bludgeoning deathcore and metalcore. "Kings Of Carnage" could likely stand on its own without the symphonic elements. But the band makes interesting use of space so that when they slow things down and allow the keys and orchestral sounds to take over the heavy elements have that much more impact. The title track "Blood Of My Enemy" makes unexpected use of female melodic vocals and adds a distinct layer of dynamics to the song's composition. The blend of epic and aggressive styles along with the lyrical topics of battle and war make this an adrenaline fueled track that ebbs and flows effortlessly.
Overall Blood Of My Enemy is a triumphant return for Winds Of Plague. Their root sound of deathcore and metalcore could stand tall on its own but the symphonic elements push the album and the band's sound well over the edge in distinctness and quality. I'm loving this record and highly recommending this album. It displays just how far you can push both aggression and melody all while staying catchy in a single work.