National CD Reviews – December 2009

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Metal Blade
Street: 10.27
3 = Coheed & Cambria + Porcupine Tree + Dream Theater
In the past I’ve been able to stomach the albums from New York’s prog rock group 3, mainly their two previous Metal Blade records releases but Revisions is a force fed sugar syrup that is way too sweet to handle. I’m just tooting my own horn here but usually with prog rock bands I look for challenging music be it emotional or technical or I look for catchy songs, Revisions has none of which. The higher pitched but not falsetto vocals seriously make me want to run a belt sander over my ears, think in the style of Coheed & Cambria but worse. 3’s Revisions album is easy listening music at best, they could seriously crank this by the numbers boring garbage in department stores. If you enjoyed the bands past releases, I highly suggest research in listening some of this album before you buy, because where in the past the band actually had some emotion and heavy rocking moments this has none. –Bryer Wharton

Aluminum Babe
Lucero Records
Street: 07.07
Aluminum Babe = CSS + Le Tigre
Your attention span will be tested while listening to Aluminum Babe’s third album. The album isn’t that bad, it’s just riddled with a bottomless pit of repetition, looping samples, disco beats, and garage riffs. 17 opens with the punchy “Infatuation” but for some reason it reappears not one but three more times in remix form at the end of the album. Why make a mediocre long album even longer? Oh, but wait it gets worse with the God awful cover of Talking Heads “Psycho Killer.” It’s so bad you will feel embarrassed for them. If you can maintain focus you will find a few interesting gems hidden after the midway point with the deep bass-line of “If You Like It” and the grinding distortion of “Dangerous.” ¬–Courtney Blair

Goi Rode Goi!
Napalm Records
Street: 11.03
Arkona = Falkenbach + Tyr + Korpiklaani
Russia’s Arkona have raised the bar for folk metal once again, their 2007 album, Ot Serdtsa K Nebu was my initiation into the bands realm of female fronted Slavic/Pagan based folk metal and the all the massively epic tones lying in wait. Goi Rode Goi is no slouch in the epic front the record is full of diverse sounds but nothing to get to overwhelming or too dense it’s pacing and flow are spectacular, mixing melody, traditional folk sounds with black and death metal standards. Masha “Scream” Arhipova is a leader in the folk metal as well as metal vocalists either enchanting and bringing listeners visions of worlds unseen or bringing sheer brutality. It’s hard to find much fault with the album that uses a massive amount of different instruments including some I’ve never heard of before including the blockflute and tulnic. Arkona achieve something many folk metal bands only dream of in the fact that they are metal first and world music second. –Bryer Wharton

Asobi Seksu
Polyvinyl Records
Street: 11.10
Asobi Seksu = Mazzy Star + Tenniscoats + Slowdive
As a general rule a band’s “acoustic” album is pretty worthless. Anyone growing up in the late 90s can recall the steady stream of cringe-worthy “your favorite pop-punk band playing whiny acoustic covers” album. Asobi Seksu’s acoustic album Rewolf, however, is a totally different animal. Asobi Seksu’s acoustic reworkings span their entire career and reign in their noisier shoegazing tendencies in favor of lushly produced dream-pop. Core members Yuki Chickudate and James Hanna strip down their shoegaze anthems to the brass-tacks centered around Yuki’s ethereal Japanese voice, Hanna’s meandering guitar lines and the duo’s collaborative studio exploration. The rewarding re-contextualization of “Thursday” and “New Year” off 2006’s Citrus aren’t acoustic versions—they are completely new compositional re-imaginings. I’m glad Asobi Seksu’s translations of their songs aren’t as literal as the English translation of their band name, literally “Playful Sex” (their name was originally Sportfuck. Yikes). –Ryan Hall

At Vance
Ride the Sky
Street: 09.18
At Vance = Stratovarious + Nightingale + Thunderstone + Helloween
No surprise here, At Vance are your fairly typical German power metal band though they do offer up some bluesy moments as well as some epic neo-classical styles amongst the bands eighth album. I don’t recall hearing any other albums from the band before this but I do know that the line-up suffered a big shift a couple years ago loosing their vocalist and drummer, another German act Thunderstone has lent it’s vocal talent to the band, largely for what this is it works. Power metal can be a guilty pleasure of mine because it can be catchy as sin at times other time it can be completely boring, derivative and drenched in cheesy metal cliché’s. Ride the Sky is a hit and miss album, the misses lie mostly in the ballads which at the very least will muster up some laughs, the hit here, is “Vivaldi, Summer 2nd Set,” which is a glorious interpretation of classic music and instrumental at that. –Bryer Wharton

Bad Lieutenant
Never Cry Another Tear
Triple Echo/Original Signal
Street: 11.09
Bad Lieutenant = New Order - Electroni
With New Order allegedly no more, hearing the distinctive tone of Bernard Sumner’s voice coming through the speakers will certainly pique the ears of fans and his new band’s “power guitar” sound, courtesy of Sumner, Phil Cunningham and Jake Evans recalls latter New Order. In fact, Stephen Morris drums on a few tracks, and while there has been much criticism of the lack of bassist Peter Hook, I actually miss the contributions of original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert myself, but then it would be a proper New Order release, and not what feels like, another side project. Within the albums first two tracks, lead single Sink or Swim and Twist of Fate, Sumner sounds pretty much the same as always. While these songs are hummable--if not a tad dull--all of the tracks here seem to suffer from the same problem: all are about a minute or so too long. What shakes things up a bit is when Sumner shares the vocal duties with Jake Evans, whose voice is pleasant and contrasts nicely, especially when they sing together, like on These Changes.  There also appears to be a conscious decision to not use many keyboards and while the first half is upbeat, they are missed greatly on the album’s second half. The second to the last track, Falling Trees, attempts to recapture the upbeat sound--and succeeds--but by then it just seems too late. –Dean O Hillis

Ipecac Records
Street: 11.17
Beak> = Can² + 1/3 of Portishead
Beak> is a new band made up of three dudes from Bristol, (that’s in England, yo) one of whom is Geoff Barrow from Portishead. Standing in stark contrast to the amount of time it took for Portishead to release their latest album, Third, Beak>’s debut was recorded live with no overdubs over a mere 12 days, relying on post-production edits to form the arrangements.  Perhaps they should have sequenced the album differently, as I want to turn this album off about halfway through every time I listen to it—too many of the songs on the first half are propped up by BOOM BOOM CRACK krautbeats and sluggish tempos that never reach that magical point of hypnosis, which is especially important when multiple songs are utilizing similar rhythms and feel.  The song “Blagdon Lake” is a nice highlight on the second half,  Silver Apples style keyboard lines pulsing under the subtle delays of a wood-toned chord progression, although its effect is dampened a bit by the bent-circuit-by-numbers vomit of “Barrow Gurney” that follows it. If you dig Can and like keyboards that sound like spaceships, there is enough good material on here to merit checking Beak> out. –ryanfedor

Beaten Awake
Fat Possum
Street 10.13
Beaten Awake = Nick Drake + Party of Helicopters + a countrified Pavement
Man, this is a hard one to get your head around.  Thunder$troke, the second album by Kent, Ohio’s Beaten Awake is most easily described as a sloppy, 70s psych-inspired guitar odyssey.  As such, it hits the nail right on the head.  The wandering, reverb-heavy and almost folksy guitar sounds pair remarkably well with the underlying, rhythmic organ.  This is particularly easy to hear on the song “Coming Home.”  If every song on the disc were like this one, this would be an open and shut case for a modern psych record.  Then the Ohio foursome drops a song like “Gyro Quake”—a much more traditional rock song, with a gentle nod of the head to songwriters like Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus.  Even as an indie rock band there is a certain country-fried feel, making that categorization seem forced.  Truth be told, this is a very listenable album—it just may take you several listens to figure out if you like it. –James Bennett    

The Black Heart Procession
Temporary Residence Ltd.
Street: 10.06
The Black Heart Procession = Tom Waits + The Swans
Following the albums 1,2, Three, Amore Del Tropico, and The Spell, Six is the sixth album from San Diego's The Black Heart Procession. Duh? The album's opening track, “When You Finish Me”, starts off with a chillingly beautiful piano/string part that slowly gets darker and bleaker as it patiently unfolds over three and a half minutes, feeling surprisingly short despite the fact that the song never strays from what it starts as. Most of the tracks on here have a similarly dark but gorgeous vibe, but there are a few rays of actual sunshine poking out through the gloom. “Back To The Underground” has a bit of a tropical Tom Waits type thing going for it and the main guitar rhythm of “Forget My Heart” could almost be called sassy when compared with everything around it. This isn't an album I'd want to listen to every day, but as fall turns to winter, it feels right. –ryanfedor

Black Tape for a Blue Girl
10 Neurotics
Street: 09.22
btfabg = (Faith and the Muse + Jill Tracy) X (Marc Almond + The Bad Seeds)
btfabg’s latest finds a new lineup, save for band- and label- founder and songsmith Sam Rosenthal. Of particular excitement to anyone with a pulse is the addition of drums and arrangements by Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls), but don’t ignore the inclusion of Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), Laurie Reade (Attrition) and guest vox by Lucas Lanthier (Cinema Strange) among others. The lyrics dwell on matters of mental decay, lies and self-loathing, human bondage and Courtney Cox’ body-obsession (made absurd but promptly reinforced by the booklet’s non-stop images of nude stick-girls and pretty boys). As for the sound, forget any previous notion of btfabg: this album croons and rocks. The misty darkwave sound of yore still peeks out on tracks like “I Strike You Down” and the furry anthem “Marmalade Cat”, but this chapter should appeal to anyone who appreciates intelligent alt-rock served up with a helping of worldliness. —Madelyn Boudreaux

Blitzen Trapper
Black River Killer EP
Sub Pop
Street: 08.25
Blitzen Trapper = Drive-By Truckers + Wilco + A.A. Bondy
Blitzen Trapper appeal to me first and foremost because they’re storytellers. Kids these days, it seems like they’re all focused on sounding clever and cool and unsubstantial, and real musical narratives are few and far between. The title track for this EP chronicles a several murders, from the point of view of the serial killer, and the rest of the songs fit around it, tackling different subjects but mostly keeping the slyly wicked, gothic mood. There’s plenty of good old-fashioned roots rock here in addition to the soft-spoken acoustic-guitar-driven tracks, and the whole thing flows together seamlessly. –Cléa Major

Body Language
Moongadget Records
Street: 06.16
Body Language = The Notwist + Hot Chip
The debut EP from Brooklyn’s Body Language is an original expedition into the world of indie electronica. With scattered, chopped up drums and guitar like Lemon Jelly or The Books and soft, melodic singing that could be ripped directly off a Stars song, this album is worth listening to. It’s catchy in its repetition and soft yet bouncy guitar and bass, with a groovy beat that carries the listener through the songs, kind of like a late 2000’s, New York City version of Telepopmusik. “Huffy Ten Speed” is easily the standout track with a melody and harmonies that were stuck in my head for days, and the other four songs are no let down, each a display of musical creativity in its own right. Although this album is supremely down-tempo, it still makes me want to dance, which is a testament to what these guys have accomplished here. –Jessie Wood

If You Want Peace, Prepare for Class War
Street: 9.1
Useless World Records
Bolth = Ceremony + Vitamin X + Bad Brains
Useless World Records is a label run by a dude from his house, and Bolth’s release is #2, so this is really a DIY effort. Bolth encapsulates that mentality to a t, they’re fast, loud, brash and all about bucking the system. The subject matter of the album is anti-government, anti-scene politics, pro-vegan and all other matters of anarcho-punk hardcore. From an ideological standpoint, if that’s what you’re into, this record should fit in nicely in your collection. Musically, it’s a sloppy, fast, screaming hardcore punk album. There are some reggae-style parts that are an obvious tribute to Bad Brains, but they fall flat in their execution and feel shoe-horned in to make the band appear even more “punk”. Musically, there isn’t anything new or original here. This is a decent release, mostly due to the snotty and honest lyrics, but doesn’t make it to the list of memorable albums of ’09. –Peter Fryer Bolth will be in Salt Lake City on January 18, 2010 at a venue TBD

Built To Spill
There Is No Enemy
Street: 10.06
Built To Spill = Dinosaur Jr. + Neil Young
As one of the indie rock originals, Built To Spill started a scene that has amassed an entire generation of followers. For anyone who's been a fan through the years, their 7th LP will not disappoint. In fact, many of you will be stoked that the style of There Is No Enemy is very reminiscent of Keep It Like A Secret and Ancient Melodies of the Future. The tunes all sound refined while still managing to keep that drifting guitar that we've all come to love. Their radio hit “Hindsight” will wax nostalgia for those who listened to them late 90's, but songs such as “Oh Yeah” and “Things Fall Apart” are some of the many tunes that really shine on this album. Nearly twenty years after their first album hit the scene, Built To Spill still manages to innovate an otherwise crumbling genre. –Ross Solomon

CJ Boyd
Aerial Roots
Joyful Noise Recordings
Street: 11.10
CJ Boyd = Nat Baldwin + Telegraph Melts + Aidan Baker
If you know one thing about playing in a band you know that bass players DO NOT, under any circumstances, play solos. I don’t care how much your dude can shred, it just doesn’t happen. Always one to flout social mores, CJ Boyd completely ignores this caveat and unleashes 45 minutes of an extended bass solo, conventions be damned! With that said, the 45 minutes of extended upright and standard bass drones on Aerial Roots cover a surprisingly expansive amount of musical territory. Repeating bass lines plucked with the ease of a classical guitar are married with expansive drones that recall the work of sludge metal pioneer Joe Preston’s solo bass project Thrones. Aerial Roots is anything but a masturbatory exercise of instrumental virtuosity; CJ Boyd creates a mini-epic suite of lonely atmospherics and contemplative ruminations from a much neglected instrument.– Ryan Hall

Dead Man's Bones
Dead Man's Bones (Featuring the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir)
Street: 10.06
Dead Man's Bones = The Arcade Fire + Ryan Gosling – cliché love story
Opening with a haunting monologue about “the magic of death” that transitions into expansive songs that have a style incredibly reminiscent of The Arcade Fire, one wonders how this album came about. Nearly every track features some incredibly ghoulish backdrops from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir, with lyrical content that would scare the Jesus out of your grandma. So who's behind this surprising little masterpiece? I'll give you a clue: Which movie was every female in a 2000 mile radius gushing about roughly 5 or 6 years ago? That's right: The brains behind this album belong to none other than actor Ryan Gosling from the motherfucking Notebook, teamed up with actor Zach Shields (though you've probably never heard of him). Don't let any of these fancy Hollywood types scare you, though: This album has consistently unique, ghostly and melodic sounds to it, unlike anything I've heard lately. Check it out. –Ross Solomon

Dead To Me
African Elephants
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 11.10
Dead To Me = The Clash + American Steel + Common Rider
The first thing Dead To Me fans will notice about African Elephants isn’t that it’s necessarily good or bad, but that it’s weird. Opening track “X” is a reggae jam sung half in Spanish, “California Sun” has a strong Bedouin Soundclash vibe going on and “Liebe Liese” is a jagged pop-punk tune with some German flavor. Oh yeah, and co-vocalist/guitarist/founding member Jack Dalrymple is nowhere to be found. The former One Man Army frontman has taken an extended hiatus from Dead To Me, and the other members’ decision to continue without their most well known and musically renowned member is pretty damn ballsy. Jack’s departure allows DTM to expand upon their simple punk rock formula and incorporate varied new influences and song structures for an album that’s initially jarring, but becomes better with each listen. Think of this as DTM’s version of Give ‘Em Enough Rope: hopefully, African Elephants will be their bridge from a solid punk rock foundation to true musical versatility and greatness. –Ricky Vigil

The Prophecy
Street: 11.03
Defiance = Testament + Vio-Lence + Skinlab
Bay Area thrashers Defiance sort of followed the path of Machine Head, at least in the vocalist department, Defiance vocalist Steve Esquivel went on to front the groove metal band Skinlab with mild success in the late 90s and Defiance’s other members went their separate ways. Well with the thrash metal scene seeing plenty of new life Defiance is back in action with The Prophecy dealing out some heavy blows with some fairly entertaining groove styled thrash metal. The album actually reminds me a hell of a lot of Low era Testament, Esquivel most of the time sounds like a sub-par Chuck Billy as the rest of the music just sounds like an all around less good version of Testament. Negative aside The Prophecy does a good job at giving thrashers an option of something with a bit more meat to it instead of cranking out the usual punk fueled thrash metal. Listening to the album puts my thrash loving mind in a mediocre mind frame, while I can’t say the record is a horrible return for the band, it easily has the potential to be so much more. –Bryer Wharton

The Curse Of The Antichrist - Live In Agony
Street: 10.13
Destruction = Sodom + Kreator + Artillery
There’s nothing like some musical Destruction, which at times feels like literal destruction as well. The Curse of The Antichrist – Live in Agony is probably the bands most ambitious live album since it’s a double album and includes tracks from the bands discography. The albums two CD’s and 22 songs is one hell of a thrash metal treat, while it’s not entirely linear it pulls in songs from performances at the Wacken Open air in Germany and Tokyo but the production is well rounded and it feels like one giant live experience. The album feels exactly like what Destruction are live, fast, loud, aggressive, noisy and just flat out metal on metal sounding. Add a hefty portion of guest performers in the vocal category as well as former members dropping in to lend a hand, throughout the album I kept wondering to myself why they didn’t make a live DVD out of these performances, because you can just feel the raw energy pushing forth from the songs it feels like there’s a whole other dimension to the presentation of the songs. –Bryer Wharton

Die Hard
Nihilistic Vision
Agonia Records
Street: 10.31
Die Hard = Possessed + Venom + Celtic Frost
The debut full length album from Swedish new school thrash trio playing an old school style captures exactly what it sets out to do, sound like classic Possessed, Venom and Celtic Frost, the only thing that makes this album sound different from said classic bands and their albums is the fact that it has clear production. The sound may be clear but it’s raw and faster than fast itself, probably the albums most enjoyable quality along with the vocals. The drumming coming from current Watain drummer can be nice and pummeling yet at other times they wind up being a ruining factor for the album sticking to pretty much the same formula song to song it’s a fairly forgivable flaw if you’re a fan of classic old school thrash metal yet, after a few listens it can become highly noticeable and irritating. Flaws noted Nihilistic Vision is a refreshing throwback act in the fact that they capture the sound they’re trying too quite well, and thank god they don’t sound like an Exodus clone. –Bryer Wharton

Darkness Come Alive
Deathwish Inc.
Doomriders = Baroness + Danzig + Black Sabbath
October was busy for Nate Newton. Both Doomriders’ Darkness Come Alive and Converge’s Axe to Fall were released within a week of each other. Newton occupies the bass guitar slot in Converge and fronts Doomriders and fortunately he has the charisma and the ability to rock hard enough to be dedicated to both acts. Doomriders first album Black Thunder was a fun diversion into Sabbathesque metal that was ragin’, but fell victim to its own side project status. It was entertaining the first time or two, but then was relegated to few plays. With Darkness Comes Alive, Doomriders break out of the side project status into a full borne metal act. The album is strong, the riffs are tighter and more memorable, JR Conners (Cave In) tears it up behind the drum kit and the song writing is varied and strong. “Come Alive” is a deadringer for Baroness style metal if Glenn Danzig were singing, and “Lions” is a Pulling Teeth style sludge rocker. If any complaints are to be lobbed at DCA it’s that it’s a bit long in the tooth at 17 tracks, but really, if you want to rock, don’t you want to keep rocking? –Peter Fryer

The Downer Party
Ego-Driven Lust Creatures
Pop Smear Records
Street: 06.22
The Downer Party = Be Your Own Pet + Care Bears On Fire
There’s nothing like two childish 18 year old pals hosting a pirate radio show and using the airways to praise their favorites artists, but at the same time having the balls to call other bands like the Band of Horses, “terrible worthless wastes of sound” Um... Okay. Cue The Downer Party. You see their San Francisco Pirate Cat Radio station manager challenge the two pals to create something better than what they were bitching about. In the fall of 2008 they found a drummer and today my hands have been graced with the Ego-Driven Lust Creatures E.P. This thing had better blow my fucking mind. No surprise, it’s childish and their obnoxious behavior is thrown carelessly throughout the four songs. The lack of originality is proven on “Where We Went Wrong,” just imagine a pop-punk version of Devo’s “Girl U Want.” Please take a page from the Tiny Masters of Today, until then someone needs to move The Downer Party’s ego to the backseat. ¬–Courtney Blair

Prince of Truth
Street: 10.06
Evangelista = (Mick Harvey - Serge Gainsbourg) + Julee Cruise
Although it opens with an immediate experimental assault on “The Slayer,” most of this album is a creeping, haunting assemblage, best encapsulated on the ghostly outro track, “On the Captain’s Side.” When she rocks out, vocalist Carla Bozulich channels Janis Joplin on bad acid. Mostly, though, her languid vocals breathe down your neck with a moist seductive husk (or an occasional creepy-little-girl sing-song chant) over a soundtrack of swampy, oozing pop and electrical gore. Add to the mix some “fucking bitch ass ruling organs” (one assumes this refers to the musical kind, but maybe they’re organic—it’s hard to tell what’s making some of these squishy sounds) as well as a “bike wheel,” music box, accordion, and a cadre of string instruments and you have a less-gravelly Diamanda Galas with a lot fewer demons: no less creepy, just less alarming. Don’t listen to this in bed unless you like nightmares! —Madelyn Boudreaux

Face Value
Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Clevo HC ‘89-’93
Street: 11.17
Smog Veil Records
Face Value = Insted + Uniform Choice + 7 Seconds
Oh Cleveland, home of the Drew Carey show, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Integrity and Face Value how you provide us with so many things. As they said on 30 Rock, we can’t all live in Cleveland. Face Value was around from ‘89 until ‘93 and embraced the more posi-leaning style of California hardcore acts like Insted. Rode Hard compiles a slew of tracks (31 in all) from Face Value’s discography - “The Price of Maturity” LP, “Coming of Age” 7”, and their first demo are found in their entirety, there are also 4 tracks from the “Kick it Over” LP. This release also comes with a DVD of footage from various Face Value shows from the early 90’s and it’s cool to be able to travel back in time to the beginning of the explosion of hardcore in Cleveland. Face Value played fast posi hardcore that had more musicality than some of the more simplistic hardcore acts of the same style and even though it’s a bit dated, it’s still a good listen. This is a great document of a crucial time in Cleveland hardcore when many legendary names were getting their start. –Peter Fryer 

Hang Your Head
Street: 08.25
Six Feet Under Records
Foundation = Unbroken + Trial + Undertow
The 90’s are the new 80’s, which is weird to me, mostly because it’s starting to make me feel old. In any case, Foundation comes forward with a straight ahead late 90’s straight edge hardcore record, plain and simple. Hang Your Head has a familiar sound and fits in right alongside your Trial and Unbroken records. What’s really important for releases like this is not, “is this breaking new ground” but, “does it move me?” On this front, Foundation comes through with flying colors, and if their short set with Bane here in Denver a few weeks ago is any indication, kids are into it. The album is comprised of 4 new tracks, 1 re-recorded, and a few from splits or 7”. What you get is good throwback riffs, uncomplicated song structures, some heavy breakdowns, sing alongs and fist pumping lyrics which are more cynical than their late 90’s counterparts. Things this simple and traditional rarely show up on the radar, but Foundation brings the intensity required for this kind of release and have put out something solid. –Peter Fryer

Friends of Friends
Deep Search
Self Released
Street: 10.20
Friends of Friends = Against Me! + Off With Their Heads + Latterman
There are a few things about Friends of Friends debut full-length that immediately made me dread listening and ultimately reviewing it: this is a self-released album by a band I've never heard of that they're giving away for free on their website. That doesn't exactly scream quality, now does it? Well, I'm glad to report that Deep Search is, in fact, pretty damn good. It seems that too many new punk bands try to capture one single aspect of punk, but Friends of Friends manage to infuse their music with a blend of anger, hope, desperation and enthusiasm that works surprisingly well. You can find the snottily depressing humor of bands like Dillinger Four and OWTH in "The Search for the Perfect Wage," gritty Against Me!-esque anger on "Endless Bummer" and "Restless Legs" and the insta-nostalgia of Latterman on the closing track "Enough was Enough." Give it a listen for yourself: –Ricky Vigil

Blackheart Revolution
G-Force Records
Street: 11.03
Genitorturers = Marilyn Manson + Alice Cooper + Lita Ford + Rob Zombie
The success of the Genitorturers surprises me because of how few albums they’ve released the latest is the bands fourth since they began in 1993. The only other album from the band I’ve actually heard is the bands 1998 record Sin City and I thought it was pretty bad, that said the new offering here is miles ahead of the album I way back when. The album successfully blends hard-edged industrial style rock with punk and classic rock. Blackheart Revolution musically sounds like the album Rob Zombie wishes he could have made just female fronted. Gen’s voice is one of the more entertaining parts of the record giving it a unique style and sound. All in all Blackheart Revolution will appease fans and newcomers, the sound is highly accessible and the songs are catchy as well as chock full of raging power chords, snappy beats and leather bondage type sexual innuendo. –Bryer Wharton

E1 Entertainment
Street: 10.13
Hatebreed = Throwdown + The Cro-Mags (watered down) + Pantera
Wow, I am fairly shocked here, I can’t really remember what the old school Hatebreed sounded like, the crap I’m familiar with is the typical tough guy hardcore formulated, chugga-chugga-chugga-boom-boom-rawr style of breakdown after breakdown hardcore. Well with this new offering to their loyal following Hatebreed have brought a bit of old school back into their normal boring hardcore, with some pure and straight actual heavy metal licks popping their heads in from time to time. The lyrics are still typical Hatebreed, power and pride silly sounding stuff, but Jamey Jasta’s vocals are pleasantly changed up from his usually boring scream. Well amongst the positive there is plenty of negative the album is forgettable within five minutes after listening with the exception of the fairly cool cover of Metallica’s “Escape,” my only suggestion here is if you have been getting sick of Hatebreed and you were a fan, this brings in new sounds and a rawer edge that actually makes it listen able. –Bryer Wharton

Higher Giant
Al's Moustache 7"
Black Numbers
Street: 08.22
Higher Giant = Lifetime + Bouncing Souls + The Movielife
Immediately upon spinning the latest 7" from Higher Giant, I knew that these guys must have some ties to the legendary Lifetime family tree. Turns out Higher Giant features Dave Wagenschutz, who has literally been in every single band associated with the legendary New Jersey melodic hardcore band, and the band bears a strong sonic resemblance to Lifetime either due to geography or association. Vocalist Ernie Parada sounds like a less annoying Ari Katz and songs like "See You Later, Chopstick!" and "Just Go!" channel Lifetime's mixture of speed and melody perfectly. All of this is good and all, but there are quite a few bands already milking the sounds Lifetime and Kid Dynamite dry. The four songs featured on this 7" aren't enough to fully judge Higher Giant, but I would definitely like to hear these guys take their influences and run with them. –Ricky Vigil

The Slaughter
I Scream Records
Street: 10.20
Incite = Lamb of God + Chimaira + Trivium
Phoenix based groove n’ thrashers Incite play quite tightly and have come up with some decent tunes and riffs mixing and matching thrash, groove metal, and some metalcore breakdowns and yep, even a guitar solo or two, the album aside from the vocals reminds me of As the Palaces Burn era Lamb of God. The big downer for the album is the false angst in the vocals, from non other than Richie Cavalera step-son of Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura). The genre being played here isn’t close to being my favorite but you can do it well and I can appreciate that the music is fine and dandy here. Even with personal bias aside the vocals here sound more fake than Pam Anderson’s breasts. Never the less, I’m sure the Lamb of God and Chimaira fanboys can still get their mosh on with this record. –Bryer Wharton

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
The Audacity of Hype
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 10.20
JBGSM = Jello Biafra & The Melvins + Jello Biafra & Nomeansno
You really have to hand it to Jello Biafra-He has made a career out of being himself. As his punk rock peers self-destructed or, god forbid, grew musically or intellectually (I'm looking at you, Ian Mackaye), Biafra has sustained the image and personality he cultivated as the frontman of the Dead Kennedys nearly 30 years ago. Touted as his first permanent band since the DKs, The Guantanmo School of Medicine is akin to Biafra's collaborations with The Melvins, DOA and Nomeansno: like the Dead Kennedys, but not as good. Biafra's lyrics are clever at times, but he mostly sticks to attacking the same old punk targets (the prison system, consumerism, corporate culture and George Bush), and the music lacks the energy and innovation of Biafra's past collaborations. When you consider that Biafra is now 51 years old, some of this can be forgiven. He's being as spiteful and insightful as he can, but we've all heard this before. –Ricky Vigil

Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen
Inspiration Information Vol. 4
Street: 10.26
Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen = Fela Kuti + Gil Scott-Heron + Sly Stone
Strut continues to deliver with Volume 4 of the Inspiration Information series. This round the label has paired Finnish homemade instrument musician Jimi Tenor with Afrobeat drumming legend Tony Allen. After listening to the album a number of times it’s hard to believe that it was recorded in a week. The musicianship is so seasoned with vibrancy and skill it sounds as if it was meant to be. Album opener “Against the Wall” sounds like a suspenseful music sequence from a film quickly changing pace into a smooth-jazz rap. On the light afro-dub track “Selfish Gene” Tony’s drum shuffles artfully along, while Jimi sings over a droning Wurlitzer organ. “Darker Side Of Night” offers up pure hip-shaking rhythm and “Got My Egusi” has crisp percussion, pumping horns with vocals in both English and Nigerian. Put down whatever it is you’re listening to and listen to the incredible synergy between these two artists. –Courtney Blair

Krum Bums
Same Old Story
Street: 08.11
Krum Bums = A Global Threat + The Unseen + Monster Squad
Same Old Story? Yeah, this is a pretty standard slab of street punk, but for anyone who has ever needed a reminder of their senselessly angry punk rock days or anyone currently immersed in their senselessly angry punk rock days, Same Old Story is sure to satisfy. The first thing the
listener hears on this six song EP is a darkly strummed acoustic guitar, which immediately reminded me of A Global Threat's criminally underrated Where the Sun Never Sets, but alas, Same Old Story is less adventurous than it initially lets on. Still, the Krum Bums deliver the goods with plenty of harsh and faux-British vocals, lots of sing-along-ability and screeching guitars aplenty. "S.O.S." is the standout track and features all of the aforementioned qualities performed flawlessly, or at least as flawless as street punk gets. Same Old Story is indeed the same old story, but who gives a fuck. Get drunk, be dumb and up the punx.  --Ricky Vigil

The Laughing
Street: 10.27
The Laughing = Stellastarr* + Grizzly Bear
Clever songwriting, careful orchestration, impressive instrumentation and overpowering percussion fill this debut album from Austin-based rock quartet The Laughing. FEVER boasts an outstanding recording and production quality. I do, however, feel this hinders the album, as it comes across far less organic and natural feeling than that of their contemporaries’ who are all trying to essentially do the same thing. The standout track was “Hellp,” a dance inducing, hand-clapping song that’d be worthy of college radio play. Repeat listens show that “Watch Out” is a pleasant song that will get you humming along, if you can grow accustomed to the quirky vocals. In closing, FEVER isn’t bad—it’s just short on redeeming qualities. I’d look to the future, as a sophomore album could be this band’s saving grace (or final nail in the coffin) because this album will get buried under the works of more promising contemporary acts. –Ryan Sanford

Lye By Mistake
Fea Jur
Metal Blade
Street: 10.13
Lye By Mistake = Don Caballero + Dysrhythmia + Candira + The Dillinger Escape Plan
Listening to instrumental rock/metal/experimental music is always a challenge, either at capturing listener’s attentions or trying not to sound like you’re beating a dead horse. It’s safe to say that for the genre the trio from St. Louis, Lye By Mistake are decent for their genre but there is room to grow, just like when Dysrhythmia hit the scene they grew into their own niche and are revered in the instrumental experimental musical world. Fea Jur most of the time is like listening to hyper speed fusion jazz with some heavier guitar riffs tossed in there isn’t really any binding feelings amongst the albums tracks other than that old organized chaos feeling and the fact that it doesn’t feel rehearsed at all, like the band just got to jamming and they laid it to track. This isn’t a bad debut as an all instrumental band, hell it’s more challenging and pleasing to listen to than any damn Pelican album, different style I know but I just had to bitch. Fans of the bands in the above equation apply and you should dig this. –Bryer Wharton

The Mary Onettes
Street: 11.03
The Mary Onettes = The Cure + The Jesus and Mary Chain
Earlier this year The Mary Onettes released the wonderful three song EP Dare. Only a few months later, and I have my wish for more come true. Islands includes the songs from the EP, and seven new tracks of pleasant listening. The first track, “Puzzles,” is the catchiest song of the album, as it starts with the distant reverbed strings and smooth 80s pop vocals. The calm strings and echoing drums throughout the album are uplifting, though most of the songs seem a little sad. From “Cry For Love” to “Bricks” it’s very easy to forget what’s happening in the surrounding reality. When not on repeat, it takes a few minutes to realize you’re sitting in silence. This is a good album to nap to. –Jessica Davis

MK & the Gentlemen
Mixed Tape EP
Topo Ranch
Street: 10.13
MK & the Gentlemen = Maroon 5 + Everlast + Counting Crows
No, really, I was in a house-party band once too. Seriously, we were so good everyone loved our shows.  It was just the rest of the world’s fault that we’re not famous. That’s how this band feels.  They wear the fact that they’re playing in front of Hollywood hipsters, albeit in their dingy basements, on their collective sleeve.  Simplistic acoustic guitar lines run behind basic beats, sing-along-ready choruses, and quick, but mealy mouthed lyrics.  Wasn’t this music the epitome of radio-friendly pop like ten years ago? Honestly, if these guys were playing in my basement, I’d probably have a pretty good time, mostly ‘cause I’d be drunk enough to overlook the constant references to a vacuous LA lifestyle, as in “Hollywood Hello” or “Baby Come Back.” But now, here, listening to them, the sound is just something I can’t get into.  Sorry guys, maybe try doing something original next time. –Rio Connelly

Sincerely, Severely
Orange Records
Street:  12.01
Morningbell = The Flaming Lips + Starlight Mints
Morningbell possesses some serious talent, mashing up all sorts of styles into a juicer but still coming out with an instantly recognizable yet distinct brand of psychedelic rock. An especially stellar tune was “Stay in the Garden,” a subdued ballot featuring an upright bass, violin, viola, clarinet and more. All of the amazing songs on this album put it even above The Flaming Lips’ most recent release, Embryonic, which has been quite a success as far as psychedelic tunes go. That’s not to say that Sincerely, Severely is without its faults. Certain songs, the most notable of them being the title track, sound like they’re ripped straight from a Flight of the Concords album. It’s really kind of a bummer when they come up, considering how enjoyable the rest of the album is. You can find this album for free at, so go check them out. No excuses. –Ross Solomon

Mr. Death
Detatched From Life
Agonia Records
Street: 10.13
Mr. Death = Grave + Expulsion + Entombed + Dismember
Knock, knock, it’s Mr. Death and they have a debut album for all you old school Swedish death metal lovers. First impressions of this Swedish band were that they sounded a hell of a lot like Grave. But delving into the bands bio I discovered that it’s membership includes players that were part of early Swedish death metal, mainly Treblinka and Expulsion, and that the album was recorded at Sunlight Studio which has played host to recording many legendary Swedish death metal bands/albums. Detached From Life feels like more of an experience of those oh so lovely fast gritty down tuned guitar riffs, guttural but enunciated death vocals, lots of bottom end bass, you know all the goodies that make Swedish death metal basically it’s own sub genre of metal. You really won’t be picking out tracks to go back to listen to when you’re done, other than the fantastic “Fin,” though Mr. Death do offer a great down and dirty no frills straight up shredding bestial death metal album. –Bryer Wharton

Mulatu Astatke
New York – Addis – London – The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1967
Strut Records
Street: 10.26.09   
Mulatu Astatke = Dizzy Gillespie + Tinariwen
This retrospective of musical genius Mulatu Astatke is quite the doozy. Ethio Jazz pretty much owes its existence to this master vibraphone player and the tracks included in this compilation prove beyond any doubt that Mulatu Astatke is the official voice of Ethio Jazz. The rhythms and beats are perfectly composed with that little twist of eccentricity that makes jazz just what the doctor ordered. He definitely knows his way around musical compositions, for some reason the music makes me feel like some sort of secret agent on assignment deep in the heart of Africa, painting wonderful feelings with the vibraphone and keyboard. I am a little bummed that the promo didn’t come with the sleeve notes or any of the unreleased photos from Astatkes’ personal archive but oh well, more reason to go out and purchase this release when it comes out officially. I think everyone can benefit from a little jazz in their everyday musical diet, and this one is full of the good stuff. – Adam Dorobiala

Nick Oliveri
Death Acoustic
Street 10.06
Nick Oliveri = Kyuss + Queens of the Stone Age + an acoustic guitar
Nick Oliveri is one of those musicians whose pedigree almost seems made up. From playing bass with Kyuss to lending his talents to the Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age and Mondo Generator, Oliveri’s career is more impressive than almost anyone else’s. But it’s not all wild and loud rock and roll. Oliveri has also made a point to play solo, acoustic shows from time to time. This disc is the result of working and reworking songs so they’ll flow well when played acoustically. When played from start to finish it sounds a lot like a set, as if this would be the exact songs in the exact order you would expect if you were to catch one of these acoustic shows. Several of the ten songs on this disc come from bands he’s been in over the years, including a couple of Dwarves songs (“Dairy Queen,” “Follow Me”). There are also some original, new compositions and a few well chosen covers. It starts with Raw Power’s “Start a Fight” and ends with “Outlaw Scumfuc” by G.G. Allin. Both versions are rather well done. There’s even a version of “Hybrid Moments,” the only Misfits song anyone ever thinks to play acoustically. In all it’s a good disc, and if you’re a fan of Nick Oliveri even you will be surprised at how well he pulls this off. –James Bennett 

Nocturnal Fear
Metal of Honor
Street: 11.03
Nocturnal Fear = Destruction + Slayer + Sodom + Possessed
Detroit thrash crew Nocturnal Fear may have suffered some personnel changes since last year’s supremely awesome offering to the thrash gods Code of Violence but the music hasn’t suffered one bit, it’s actually tightened up and punched forward the ante of aggression. Nocturnal Fear do a great job at taking influences of American and German thrash metal brewing them together in an unholy concoction of ten war fueled, demonizing, metal on metal, fast as hell nicely original sounding cuts for Metal of Honor. Vocals for the new record come from Doomy G. Blackthrash of fellow Michigan based thrash act Sauron adds his raspy blacked shrieks to the mayhem giving the album a nice flavor of the early style of Sodom. Metal of Honor is definitely what the thrash metal doctor ordered, it’s fast, it’s raw, it’s original and if it’s not exploding your ear drums you better damn well turn it up. –Bryer Wharton

Nouvelle Vague
Street: 10.20
Nouvelle Vague = Françoise Hardy + The Postmarks
In 2005 Nouvelle Vague introduced themselves to us with their self-titled debut album of Punk and New Wave covers done with a 60’s bossa nova flair. It was a breath of fresh air then, and the song choices were straight up brilliant. With the release of 3 they continue the re-imagined formula but this time with less lounge and more American country roots, like on the twangy whispered version of TheTalking Heads “Road to Nowhere.” Other additions include duets with Martin Gore of Depeche Mode appearin on the country-tinged “Master and Servant”, Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen adding a haunting complement to the lush voice of Melanie Pain on “All My Colours”, and the awkward pairing of Nadeah Miranda and Barry Adamson on the ghostly version of “Parade.” Nouvelle Vague brought a few new ideas to their brand of cover songs, too bad it is so hit and miss. ¬–Courtney Blair

Pariah Piranha
People People
Street: 09.01
Pariah Piranha = The Butchies + Bidston Moss + The Distillers
This whole album is very hit-or-miss. Vocalist Tara Gordon has the kind of grizzled voice that sometimes works very well with Pariah Piranha’s variety of grungey queercore, and sometimes just doesn’t. Some tracks really work, combining catchy, brazen guitar riffs with Gordon’s throaty vocals—stand-outs include “Cataclysm,” “Small Town Holdout” and “Green Rooms.” But much of the album fucks around with pointlessly discordant noise and Gordon’s attempts to sound like the HorrorPops. While there’s worthwhile fun stuff here, I found myself skipping over more tracks than I listened to straight through. –Cléa Major

What We All Come To Need
Southern Lord
Street: 10.27
Pelican= Failure+Lungfish+Helmet+Unwound
Pelican, like many other bands have adopted the term “atmospheric.” I feel like this time around, with What We All Come To Need, atmospheric is too generic and indiscriptive. There is a placebo effect of Failure’s Fantastic Planet that begins with the first track, “Glimmer”, and runs straight to the second track “Creeper”, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. All eight tracks are saturated with rock and roll very in tune with a 90’s grunge style. I found drunk riffs with lots of repetition and character and a punk undertone-- all while being groovy and easy to get to know. “Final Breath” is the last track and includes vocals after forty minutes of instrumental hypnosis. What We All Come To Need seems to me a smart concept that will hook and not release many listeners. – Nicole Dumas

A Journey's End Reissue
Metal Blade
Street: 09.29
Primordial = My Dying Bride + Agalloch + Suidakra + Katatonia (pre Tonight’s Music)
This reissue of Irish folk metal crew Primordial offers some definite bang, punch, wallop and just sheer enjoyment for you’re buck. Going into listening to this all of the tunes were new to me, I sadly got the band confused with Thy Primordial for a bit, in any regard the entire package was a pleasant surprise. The album itself is brilliant perfection, originally released in 1998 it’s the bands second full length record and is filled with vibrant delightfully dark melodies, some mid-tempo depressive black metal guitar work with outright doom styled passages and probably the one of the best examples of using acoustic guitar in metal. If you’re like me and had yet to discover any of the band this re-issue is an outstanding starting point since it comes with a bonus live disc from a 1999 performance, all in all it’s a bonus if you own the original or not. –Bryer Wharton

The Prodigy
Take Me To the Hospital Remixes
Cooking Vinyl
Street: 10.20
The Prodigy= Pendulum + Skinny Puppy + The Chemical Brothers
The Prodigy is an interesting group that can be classified as big beat, a term coined for them, Fatboy Slim and The Crystal Method, among others, which is characterized by heavy breakbeats and synthesized loops and patterns. However, the tracks on Take Me To the Hospital single, which include the original title track as well as eight remixes, go beyond any electronic sub-genre and spread into many genres. The fast paced, sub-bass and scattered drum synths easily fall into drum and bass and breakbeats, while the womp-womp sound and fast, high synths are a nod to recent club electro. The chopped-up and mechanized vocals herald back to early 90s house, and the heavy bass is a nod to The Prodigy’s industrial roots. The original song isn’t very innovative in itself, but the remixes show that it does have the ingredients necessary to be warped and synth-ed out to please today’s electronic and club scenes. –Jessie Wood

Raekwon The Chef
Only Built For Cuban Linx Part 2
ICE H2O Records
Street: 09.08
Raekwon The Chef = Staten Island Circa 1995 + Dr Dre + J Dilla
In 1995 Raekwon released the original staple album of his career, Only Built For Cuban Linx. Almost fifteen years later he has released his fourth solo album, Part Two. After all that damn time Rae Rae doesn't disappoint. Dr. Dre provides two separate productions “Catalina” and “About Me” even after Aftermath (Dr Dre's label) separated from the project in 2006. The album delivers classic WU anthem songs like “House of Flying Daggers,” “New Wu” and “Canal Street.” Ghostface, Inspectah Deck and Method Man throw you the raw and drug infused lyrics you crave, while Rza adds the kung fu samples and beat production he is known for. A stand out was “Ason Jones,” an ODB tribute song produced by the late J Dilla. Part Two is a long awaited, highly anticipated continuation of the freshness from The Chef. –Bethany Fischer

The Rakes
V2 Records International Limited
Street: 10.09 (digital release only)
The Rakes= Bloc Party + The Libertines
Sadly,  as I start this review, The Rakes are no more.  They announced their official split on their website just days before their third album was set to be released in the US and only weeks before their Urban Lounge show.  Are they victims of a failing recording industry?  It’s hard to say, since Klang! was only being released digitally in America.  That would mean minimal advertising and promotion required from the label. Plus, the physical CD has been available on import since March.  More likely, per the statement on their website, they have become victim to their own success, suggesting that they are not able to give it “their 100% anymore.”  And what a shame that is since Klang! is a fantastic album.  Punk rocky and highly catchy, the album’s 11 cuts (including download bonus Demons) were recorded quickly in a converted studio in Berlin, giving the album a great, infectious spontaneity.  Lead singer/guitarist Alan Donohoe sounds like a more Cockney version of Jarvis Cocker spewing out his words as the melody happily bounces behind him, especially on the opener “You’re In It” and the single “1989”.  Other highlights are the slower, yet no less intriguing, “The Light From Your Mac” (with its great bass line courtesy of Jamie Hornsmith) and the wonderfully titled “The Loneliness of the Outdoor Smoker.”  When albums grab you at first listen, as this one did to me, it’s a shame to think that more won’t be following it.  That seems the real pity of The Rakes’ disbandment. –Dean O. Hillis

Rise and Fall
Our Circle is Vicious
Street: 11.10
Deathwish Inc.
Rise and Fall = Pulling Teeth + Modern Life is War + The Carrier
For the longest time Europe received no love from the American hardcore community, with few bands even causing a blip on the radar. Audiences have been warming up to Europe in the past few years, with acts like Justice, Anchor and Dead Swans, but one of the most notable bands from overseas is Rise and Fall. Things are going to get even bigger for these guys because Our Circle is Vicious destroys. I’m not speaking in usual hyperbole-laced compliments here: between the recording quality of Kurt Ballou (God City Studios), the ominous heaviness of Cedric Goetgebuer’s guitar work and the impassioned vocal delivery, this album is devastating. Tracks like “Built on Graves” are speaker melting.  Lyrics like “I know where this will take us/Let’s hope you know where it will leave you,” (from “Harm’s Way”) are so angry and bleak that it’s hard not to kind of love it. The album varies between mid-tempo songs that are every bit as heavy as their blazing counterparts. Rise and Fall came from Belgium to destroy, and destroy they do. –Peter Fryer

Robin Guthrie
Darla Records
Street: 10.09
Robin Guthrie = Cocteau Twins - Elizabeth Fraser & Simon Raymonde
When groups disband and go their separate ways, it is often the singer whose releases get the most attention, but in the case of the late, great Cocteau Twins, the mind-boggling resume of guitarist/producer Robin Guthrie just can’t go unnoticed. It appears that the ubertalented Mr. Guthrie has never stopped working, continuing to produce/mix for others, create soundtracks and perform. With select EPs released through the years, Carousel is actually only his 3rd solo album and like all of his previous work, it has an uncommonly fine attention spent to its sound. While song titles sometimes appear irrelevant on an instrumental album, the gorgeous Delight and Mission Dolores are both hypnotically beautiful and somehow do seem to suit their names. Guthrie’s guitar work here, layered and mesmerizing, is truly a highlight. Repeated listens--almost guaranteed with such a succinct album--will pull listeners into its unique otherworld and burrow itself into their heads, making this another memorable achievement in Guthrie’s already staggering resume. –Dean O Hillis

Savage Messiah
Insurrection Rising
Street: 11.03
Savage Messiah = Exhorder + Arch Enemy + Sodom + Megadeth
Whether or not the U.K’s Savage Messiah took their name from the Arch Enemy song or not who knows, but the first few songs in the album bears influence from the album Wages of Sin said song came from, other than the fact that Savage Messiah use cleanly sung vocals instead of growls. The album also sounds a hell of a lot like Megadeth in some of the nasally vocal styles as well as the fast guitar riffing, think Megadeth’s Rust in Peace meets Symphony of Destruction. Insurrection Rising does a good job at taking heavy meaty riffing adding subtle, pleasing and technical melodies then mixes speed metal styles with traditional thrash. All of this mishmashing and adding of styles bodes well for initial listens, but after a bit the vocals start ruining things for me while yes they do make the band sound unique they start sounding a bit forced and unnatural in juxtaposition to the actual music, add a really awful ballad tune and things snowball easily throwing the whole thrash vibe things off in a bad downward way. –Bryer Wharton

Secrets of the Moon
Knife Fight Media/Prophecy Productions
Street: 10.06
Secrets of the Moon = Samael (early) + Akercocke + Burzum + Anathema (early)
Germany’s Secret’s of the Moon have been receiving hype and praise for since their inception, Privilegim is my initiation into the bands unique sound. Everything I had seen on paper said that Secrets of the Moon are a black metal band, but Privilegim feels like more of a dark metal band with hints at black metal, there is just as equal parts of depressive doom, death and atmospheric type metal all falling into play on the album, it all plays out on a massive scale giving listeners an immersion of darkness experience while the pacing is slow the album does not bore, it offers up some fantastically large and brilliant mid-tempo riffs with relentless pounding drums and atmospheric feeling melodies peppering the darkness of it all. Privilegim succeeds in painting a bleak sometimes harsh but at other times dreary yet beautiful picture, it’s a genre-bending album well worth listening too. –Bryer Wharton

Breathing The Fire
Prosthetic Records
Street: 10.13
Skeletonwitch =  At The Gates + Immortal + Megadeth + Phobia
Dear Skeletonwitch, I’m writing to tell you how fucking hard Breathing The Fire rules. The last show I saw you play was on your journey to the northwest to record with the ridiculously talented Jack Endino. Kudos to you, Skeletonwitch. You’ve again created an insanely elite and magical album. Everything I worship and adore in metal lies in Breathing The Fire. You know what a metal heart yearns for and that’s what’s been delivered: Loads of thrash/black/death possession, impeccable amounts of speed, and vocals that cut like a chainsaw. Each 2-3 minute polished to-the-nines song bleeds into the other engaging me, as I belt out words I didn’t know I had memorized, like from my favorite track, “Stand Fight and Die”: “What once was yours now becomes mine, when weapons raise and the blood starts to flow, you stand, you fight, you die!”  P.S. No wonder Breathing The Fire debuted on the Billboard Top 200! –Nicole Dumas

World Painted Blood
American Recordings
Street: 11.03
World Painted Blood = Christ Illusion + Diabolus in Musica + Divine Intervention        There are really two ways to look at the current incarnation of Slayer.  It’s basically been that way since their 1998 Diablolus in Musica album that drastically changed their sound. Thankfully, Slayer always have had angry thrash core in their music. If you were hoping that with World Painted Blood you were going to get another Reign in Blood, you’re delusional, because it’s not going to happen, ever. If you’ve enjoyed all the albums since 1998 then you’re going to enjoy World Painted Blood, and you’re going to enjoy it a lot. It’s the best record since Divine Intervention. With the first few listens the album sounds fairly similar to Christ Illusion, but after a bit the sheer thrash metal songs shine through with the old style Slayer attitude of the band bringing back that noisy punk attitude all with wailing solos, fast riffs and just overall swirling thrash mayhem. While very similar to the last album, Slayer achieves what they tried to with the last record by mixing old and new with catchy, angry and just infinitely betters songs. –Bryer Wharton

Sleep Whale
Western Vinyl
Street: 11.03
Sleep Whale = The Six Parts Seven + Do Make Say Think + vocals
It's too bad that more artists don't try their hand at creating some good ol' ambient rock. Lucky for us, though, every few years a little morsel of goodness pops up for us hopefuls. This just so happens to be one of those morsels. These four guys from northern Texas haven't bent the genre in any sort of crazy new way, but Houseboat is still a great record that only builds on its charm with every listen. The equation above really describes the album quite well—this album struck me as a direct descendent of The Six Parts Seven's Casually Smashed To Pieces and & Yet & Yet from Do Make Say Think. Either of those artists interest you? Then these guys most certainly will, too. –Ross Solomon

Tirra Lirra
Pink Live Forever
Nowhere Records
Street: 08.25
Tirra Lirra = (The Bolshoi – Joy Division) * Chapterhouse
Chicago-based “pop-goth” outfit, Tirra Lirra weave threads of longing and 20-something romantic urges, layered over an intricate sonic tapestry of medieval and tribal-inspired rock that, taken together, falls flat and fails to excite. Somehow, through their abstract instrumental noodlings and slightly whiney vocals, they manage to land squarely in the camp of early 1990’s brit-rockers -- bands like James, House of Love, and even some of the more melodic ventures from Carter USM – but without the infectiousness of these bands. The production here could be a lot cleaner without making them too slick. As it stands, this is an enjoyable yet uninspiring release, easy to listen to and just as easy to forget. —Madelyn Boudreaux

Toby Keith
American Ride
Show Dog National
Street: 10.06
Toby Keith = Brad Paisley + Kenny Chesney + Hank Williams Jr.
Not the worst country CD I have ever heard, but it is however the first one I listened to all the way through. Filled with all the typical country music topics that fans have grown to love, American Ride is just that, a little journey through Americana. Filled with songs about dogs, pickup trucks and hoedowns with your favorite lady. As much as it may pain me to say this, Toby Keith does know his country music, and that’s what makes it enjoyable to listen to. Songs like “If I Had One” about wanting to be out of the driver seat of a big rig and out in the fresh air on a Harley and “Every Dog Has His Day” about getting your own chance to shine. A surprisingly good track, “Ballad of Balad” about enlisting in the services has some of the best lyrics on the album. “I met an Army recruiter down at the Win-Dixie / he said son you got no future / pack up and come with me. Walked in on my buddy with a female MP / ugliest woman you ever did seen. He said why are you laughing, you got lots of nerve / over here in the desert we grade on a curve.” As far as country music goes American Ride is an album that anyone could enjoy, even coming from a punk rock or hip hop background you can get your hoedown on with this one. – Jemie Sprankle

Underworld VS The Misterons
Street 11.09
Underworld VS The Misterons = Underworld - techno
Jazz music is a tough listen for me. In other words, I really have to be in the mood for it. And unless you are faves Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell, AKA the great pop-leaning Swing Out Sister, mostly I am not. Imagine my surprise when putting in this disc by techno giants Underworld (and their rather uninventive pseudonym The Misterons) only to be assaulted not with great dance music, but rather tedious jazz experiments, mostly by other artists. It would appear that Athens is meant to be a compilation album, a tribute of some sorts to the band’s roots, but would have benefited greatly from some basic beat mixing/sequencing. I think I hear some techno element in Roxy Music’s eary track 2HB, but when I rewind discover that it actually is a digitized voice informing me that I’m listening to a “promotional copy of Underworld vs The Misterons,” which I find annoying beyond belief. Things improve slightly with the great Laurent Garnier’s Gnaumankoudji followed by Miroslav Vitous’ New York City, the latter of which starts out with a funkiness that is hard to resist. Underworld appear twice, first on the instrumental Oh, which isn’t too bad, and then on the very promising-sounding Brian Eno collaboration Beebop Hurry, which unfortunately is marred by Karl Hyde’s misguided rap and then ends, rather abruptly at only 3 minutes in length, thankfully before another digitized voice warning started up again. While I have no problem with any band/artist wanting to break out of their stereotypical genre, this recording seems destined to appeal only to their die-hard fans and isn’t likely to make them any new ones. Seemingly self-indulgent, it is like an expensive mix tape that only the band’s friends/collaborators would truly be interested in. –Dean O Hillis

While Heaven Wept
Vast Oceans Lachrymose
Cruz Del Sur
Street: 11.03
While Heaven Wept = Solitude Aeturnus + Fates Warning (early) + My Dying Bride
While Vast Oceans Lachrymose doesn’t quite sound like heaven weeping it is one of those nice epic and grandiose albums that derives a pleasing listen throughout the bands third full length and first album in six years. The band definitely plays epic progressive doom metal, while I can’t compare this record to the bands past because I haven’t heard any of it, the album is more on the progressive musical end than that doom filled. Yeah the maritime themed lyrics are definitely gloom filled but the record is filled with grandiose sounds in it’s big but more grand feeling guitar riffing and more calming in it’s technically challenging and ear pleasing melodies so instead of feeling blue the album almost gives you a conqueringly proud feeling. However you look at the album it’s a nice break from you’re the more standard type doom bands that sound like they’re ripping off Black Sabbath. –Bryer Wharton

White Out
Ecstatic Peace!
Street 09.22
White Out = Sonic Youth + No Wave + the sounds of traffic
White Out is an experimental, improvisational noise band based in (where else?) New York City. It is mostly the brain child of two people, Tom Surgal and Linn Culbertson, though others do occasionally lend their “talents” to the duo. Over the years two separate members of Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke have provided some improvised noise guitar sounds to White Out recordings. Still, the two had never played together on a White Out release until this one. Recorded live at a New York club in 2004, Senso is a double CD that contains only two tracks (one per disc)—two drawn-out, pluggy, hard-to-listen-to dirges. For fans of hipster noise bands trying to recapture the No Wave sound of 1980s NYC, this album will be a godsend. For the rest of us, those who would rather not listen to Thurston Moore sonically masturbate over what sounds like a pod of angry, love-sick whales, this album is an exercise in musical endurance. Torture music, if you will. I listened to the whole thing a couple of times, and even though I didn’t pay a dime for the discs, I still feel like I deserve a refund. –James Bennett