Sept 8 Release Music Reviews
"Left Hand Pass" By Cannabis Corpse
Genre: Death Metal
Ah Cannabis Corpse. While their parodied weed song titles are there to get a chuckle out of you the band's music is no joke. Filled to the brim with high energy death metal tracks there's nary a weak song on the album, Every song is high tempo but knows when to slow to mid tempos for groovy yet swift song sections. Highlights include "Chronic Breed" about being trapped and killed to be set aflame and smoked. And "The Fiends That Come To Steal The Weed Of The Deceased" about grave robbing from dead stoners who succumbed to an immensely powerful marijuana strain. Death metal has often been this ridiculous but rarely quite as humorous making Left Hand Pass a fun filled ride from beginning to end.
"Outsider" By Comeback Kid
Genre: Hardcore Punk
Canada's Comeback Kid has enjoyed a long career by consistently releasing solid albums. Their latest effort Outsider is no different with the band blending their aggressive instrumentation with gang shout vocal melodies.led by the fierce yet discernible voice of Andrew Neufeld. "Somewhere, Somehow" and "Surrender Control" are the big, hooky highlights of the record that are primed for live sing-a-longs. "I'll Be That" goes into borderline metal territory with its more thrashy riffage and "Hell Of A Scene" holds a chorus that's arguably pop punk but sandwiches it between caveman, two note drum blasts giving it a stark contrast. All in all Outsider is a solid record that has plenty to satisfy the hardcore scene while simultaneously having enough melody to reel in newcomers to the genre.
"Only Death Is Real" By Stray From The Path
Genre: Nu Metalcore/Rap Metal
NYC's Stray From The Path stand out from many of their metalcore peers with their overtly political lyricism and rap metal/hardcore musical blend. Think of a modernized version of Rage Against The Machine. Their latest record deals with a number of timely issues like the rise of white nationalism (Goodnight Alt-Right) and the 2016 U.S. presidential election (The House Always Wins). While the band performs with intensity and a lot of catchy grooves a feeling of sameness can be found from track to track with the topics of each song being the biggest difference you can hear rather than the instrumentation. There is a good deal of fun to be had with this record however as you can feel the passion in the messages given by the band. There's also some notable guest spots from the likes of Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley and rapper Vinnie Paz. SFTP is a nice switch up from the typical modern metal or hardcore band and music fans pining for the nostalgia of when rap rock was huge will find plenty to enjoy on Only Death Is Real.
"Shade" By Living Colour
Genre: Hard Rock
There's a lot more to Living Colour than "Cult Of Personality". While the band hasn't been as big in the public eye since their first two albums the group has continued to go strong outside of a five year breakup from 1995-2000. With their blend of hard rock, funk, jazz, hip hop, and metal they've remained one of the more unique bands around. That mixture of style is well polished on Shade as the band has crafted a record that goes deep on quality cuts. Opening track "Freedom of Expression (F.O.X.)" is a heavy blues rock track featuring some adept musicianship from the band and Corey Glover's voice still hasn't lost a step even 30 years into the band's career. "Program" is a more funk leaning track that talks about how the media has become a tool for political ideologies and somewhat goes hand in hand with the message from "Cult Of Personality". There's also some interesting choice of covers on Shade of Marvin Gaye, Robert Johnson, and most notably Notorious B.I.G.'s "Who Shot Ya?". Re-done to be delivered with an anti-police violence message. Shade is a very strong record that should wake up a few people that Living Colour is not only still around but stronger than ever.
"Broken Machine" By Nothing But Thieves
Genre: Alternative Rock
Nothing But Thieves came on the music scene with a highly lauded debut record that held many popular singles and gave them a lot of fame much more swiftly than most other contemporary rock bands. So the pressure was on for their sophomore effort to match that success and not only does the band match their debut. They topple it with seeming ease. With a focus on more upbeat tracks NBT have crafted a diverse record in its instrumentation and infectious in its hooks with vocalist Conor Mason proving himself one of the better vocal talents in the newer crop of rock bands with his R&B styled croons and falsettos a unique trait among the indie rock crop. There's also a lyrical cohesiveness to the record with themes on emotions and overcoming being machine-like within them. "I'm Not Made By Design" is one of the most high energy tracks and showcases Mason's vocal power. "Sorry" is a slower cut that dwells on the romantic. A surefire radio hit minus the cheesy glaze. Title track "Broken Machine" is a mid tempo head-nodder with a swaying beat that is relatively minimal yet still catchy and shows the band can do a lot with very little. Nothing But Thieves are sounding like stars in the making and if the quality is maintained with more records like this one then the band will be a household name before too long.
"Will To Power" By Arch Enemy
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Will To Power continues Arch Enemy's growth to being a more melodic band but thankfully didn't turn out as "power metal-y" as the first singles hinted. Both "The World Is Yours" and "The Eagle Flies Alone" suffer from poor lyricism that has reared its head often in the band's catalog. And has become an even larger problem since White-Gluz took over vocal duties with her more discernible vocals. It would perhaps do the band good in the future to allow White-Gluz to take over more of the lyric writing duties from guitarist Michael Amott as her contributions on tracks such as "The Race" and "Murder Scene" are of much better quality than most of the record. Along with the band's movement towards more melody they've released their first song with clean vocals in the track "Reason To Believe". It's a welcome mid-album detour that increases the sonic palette the band is able to deliver on and makes use of the diverse talents of their new front woman. The album does still deliver the heavy though on tracks like "First Day In Hell" and "Blood In The Water" giving the album a greater degree of balance. With Will To Power it sounds like Arch Enemy are trying to explore a bit as to what they can do melody wise while maintaining the death metal element to their sound. As often is the case with trying new things there are growing pains with some of the tracks, while solid, don't stick with you as well as some of the band's earlier work. But it's still a solid effort nonetheless.
"Outrage! Is Now" By Death From Above
Genre: Alternative Rock
Canada's Death From Above (formerly Death From Above 1979) have made a name for themselves with their two man, bass lead, danceable, punk leaning indie rock. Even after ten years without an album since their debut the band was able to release an even higher quality record (in my opinion) in The Physical World that was ate up by fans. Not as long of a wait had to happen for a third record with Outrage! Is Now coming only three years after its predecessor. This record, compared to the band's earlier work, seems to put less of a focus on being dance oriented and instead focuses on creative riff and songwriting ideas at a variety of tempos and angles. "Freeze Me" is an early favorite with its distinct piano hook being the song's centerpiece and alternating that with a matching bass riff for the chorus. "Caught Up" is a slickly composed track with its sultry vibe, choppy drum beat, and bluesy riffs sounding similar to something out of Queens Of The Stone Age's catalog. "Never Swim Alone" is driven by a simple "We Will Rock You" type beat and a choppy, high-note riff that focuses on catchy repetition. All stuffed in just over two and a half minutes. There's a lot of variety on Outrage! Is Now and it's definitely a positive. Despite the band's relatively minimal set up the duo is successfully exploring new musical avenues and have crafted arguably their best album so far. The waves of praise are sure to continue for Death From Above and rightfully so with output of this quality.