Tag Archives: Album Reviews

Album Review: The Devil Wears Prada ‘8:18’

One of the best bands to hit the scene in recent year are, The Devil Wears Prada. The band is set to release their fifth studio album 8:18. 8:18 is the long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s full length effort by the band, Dead Throne and 2010’s masterful, Zombie EP. This album picks up were those to works left off, and continues to push the boundaries of what this band is capable of doing. The sound is dark and more mature, and we guarantee you’re in for a great ride from track one through thirteen.

8:18 starts off with the slow-moving synth driven intro to the track “Gloom.” However “Gloom” picks up it’s pace at the 50 second mark when the band comes in and provides a bruising intro. “Gloom” almost seems like a mission statement from the band, telling the listener what they have in store for the rest of the album. The drums, guitars, synth, and vocals work well on this track. The next riff that will hit you is the intro to the second track “Rumors” which is a bruising riff, but it slows downs in the verse which is atmospheric, but we hear the first hint of melody in this tracks chorus.

“First Sight” is the third track on the record, and it hits you like a brick wall from the beginning, but then as the track moves on you hear the song grow into this melodic juggernaut in the chorus. The stand out of this track however are the guitars which are tight, but leave enough room in the mix for the track to breathe.

The next track that caught my attention was the album’s title track, 8:18 which has a beautiful clean intro which is interrupted by vocalist Mike Hranica’s primal screams. The next track that really grabbed me was “Care More” which is a real departure for the band which is awesome. They really mixed it up with this one showing what they can do both vocally and with arranging.

Next thing you know theirs a bell chiming and this signals the intro to the track, “Martyrs” which was one of the first tracks that fans got to hear from this record. This track is great and is a real throw back to the Dead Throne sound that I and TDWP fans love. “Black and Blue” starts with an ominous intro that sends the message that mayhem is about to unfold, and it does and this mayhem continues throughout the rest of the record concluding with the thirteenth and final track, “ In Heart.”

Overall I believe that 8:18 is the next step in The Devil Wears Prada’s evolution. This record is excellent. One of the best metal records of the year.

-B. Harlow

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Avenged Sevenfold Pull From Their Influences to Create, ‘Hail To The King’

The metal community came together in 2009 to support Avenged Sevenfold after the death of their drummer, James ‘The Rev’ Sullivan. It was a sad time to be a fan of the band, but the band rebounded quite well with the release of their fifth album, Nightmare in 2010, which the band was working on at the time of the Rev’s death. The drums on the album were completely recorded by former Dream Theater drummer, Mike Portnoy. After some touring they announced a new drummer, Arin Ilejay, would be touring with them. In 2013 they made Ilejay a full-time member, and is now featured on the band’s latest album, Hail To The King.

Hail To The King is very different from the band’s previous work. It has a very classic rock vibe with a lot of their influences displayed prominently throughout the record. It is unclear whether or not this was intentional or not, but some of the tracks are clearly shoutouts to the bands that have influences, Avenged Sevenfold. The first track, “Shepherd of Fire”  is a clear example of this as it sounds like a mix of “Raining Blood” and the bells are reminiscent of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Next up is the album’s title track, “Hail to The King.” The intro to this song this sounds like AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck.” But this new track sounds like Maiden throughout the guitars yet has an Avenged Sevenfold feel due to the vocals provided by M. Shadows. who sounds excellent. This track moves at a steady clip, but could have been brought up several BPM. The guitar playing by Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengance is excellent. Lyrically M. Shadows is on par with many other metal vocalists and lyricists.

“Doing Time” is a great track that reminds a great deal of Guns n’ Roses. I don’t hate it. And Honestly I can say I don’t mind it. Rock needs a track like this to clear out all the crappy radio rock that is played these days (i.e. Theory of a Deadman.) “This Means War” is up next and this track also lends its self well to comparison of other classic metal songs. This song particularly makes one think of the classic Metallica tune “Sad But True.” “Requiem” is the fifth track on the album, and is one of my favorites on the record. It has a very old school vibe which is awesome. It reminds me of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin in the orchestrated part too.

The next track really slows down, and is entitled, “Crimson Day.”  It’s also one of the best tracks on the record, as it shows that M. Shadows is a great vocalist. And also shows the great melodic guitar playing of Synyster Gates. “Heretic” is the next track on the album, and this one is definitely influenced by another Big 4 band, Megadeth. It sounds without a doubt like “Symphony of Destruction,” write down to the punishing bass line. There is also a part that sounds like Megadeth’s “Hangar 18.” Again I don’t hate it, in fact I quite enjoyed it.

The next track that really caught my ear was the final track, “Acid Rain” which is a beautiful ballad centered around a piano very reminiscent of so many great songs, but the thing is they made it their own and came up with a great song.

Hail To The King, is a great album and will stand side by side with their best work. They have mastered the formula that includes many of their influences and created their own signature brew.

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Jay-Z’s New Album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

This summer has been an exciting for all of the hip hop world, but the album we all know would set the bar for summer releases, hit last week.  That album is Jay-Z’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released via a Samsung app, a move that Jay-Z thought would re-write the rules in this new age of high-tech music. But one thing is the consistency of Jay-Z’s work. This album has some high points and some low points, but overall is a great listening experience.

One of the best parts of the album is the first track, “Holy Grail,” which is a mid-tempo track featuring Justin Timberlake who provides an awesome performance with the bravado needed to push the track. “Piccasso Baby” is the second track on the album, and this track is strange because I liked the live instrumentation, but could not stand what sounded like a dental drill. “Tom Ford” is a highlight on the album, as it definitely has a catchy beat.

“Crown” is one of the best hip-hop tracks that has been released in recent years, especially because it brings back something that has been missing in hip-hop, a good dis that effects more than just hip-hop culture. Not since the Ludacris Bill O’Rielly fued have I heard a dis so good then the one Jay-Z put on Scott Boras the infamous sports agent when he states, “Scott Boras, you over baby.” Obviously this is in reference to the next big project that Jay-Z has been working on, Roc-Nation Sports. The next track you should listen to is “Heaven” which is the best track on the album.

Magna Carta Holy Grail is a great album, I suggest you find a stream and check it out!

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NEVER SAY DIE: Black Sabbath Return With First Album Featuring Ozzy Osbourne in 35 Years, ’13’

Black Sabbath. These two words say so much. They conjure images of Ozzy Osbourne peace signs swinging in the air hoping up and down like a coked up Richard Nixon. Of Tony Iommi standing in place playing the evilest riffs that can be conjured. And Geezer Butler, whose bass tone and style is the gold standard for all of heavy metal.  These three titans have come together with the help of producer, Rick Rubin to release their first new album in 35 years, 13.

13 starts off with the ominous opening riff to the album’s first track “End of The Beginning.”    “End of The Beginning” has a very slow ominous feel to it that is very reminiscent of the band’s eponymous song “Black Sabbath.”  The song eventually picks up and the listener gets bludgeoned by another one of Iommi’s signature riffs.

13’s second track is entitled “God is Dead?” which starts off with a slow instrumental section that sets the mood for the song. This then gets interrupted by another one of Tony Iommi’s signature riffs. You can hear how tight the band is on this riff especially bassist Geezer Butler and session drummer, Brad Wilk. The slow meandering riff comes back again and with it we hear Ozzy’s vocals which sound excellent. Rick Rubin did a great job polishing Ozzy’s voice on this song, as it is spotless in performance. Butler’s bass is super punchy during the verse too, which gives the song a certain movement that is different from Iommi’s guitar playing which is very smooth. The chorus comes in and this is when we hear Black Sabbath as it is meant to be heard with extremely loud riffs. Around the 5:55 the song hits a bridge and this is by far my favorite song as it fits in with the band’s older material like “Hole in the Sky.”

“Loner” is the next track on the album, which is a track about pure alienation, which lyrically is interesting because many of Sabbath’s early songs were about that same topic. The riff in this song is very standard and simple, but it gets the job done.  But where the song really is stunning is towards the middle where it slows down for a short period, but then the band kicks in, and they’re full speed.

“Zeitgeist” is the albums fourth track, and is one of my favorite tracks on the record. The song has a great feel reminiscent of their great track, “Planet Caravan.”  It’s a beautiful track, and Rubin did a great job on the mixing allotting each instrument the correct space in the mix. If there’s anything that would be the polar opposite of “Zeitgeist” it would be the next track, “Age of Reason” which is a riff driven track about the end of the world, but what I love about it is it’s riff which sounds like a number of my favorite Black Sabbath songs got shoved into a blender, and the end result was this track. Tony Iommi’s guitar playing is also something that should be noted, as he provides a very heavy mechanical feel, but still makes the track groove. Wilk’s drumming is also great on this track.

“Live Forever” is another one of those tracks that you just want to bang your head to. The riff has so much groove. It’s a tremendous song, and the lyrics on the track are spectacular too. “Damaged Soul” is the seventh track on the album, and this song sounds like it came straight from 1971. The production on this song isn’t as spectacular as the rest of the album, but the unpolished feel adds to the rustic and true image that Black Sabbath has always portrayed.

“Dear Father” is the last track on the album, and this song is as heavy, as anything I’ve heard even though it’s a slower song in parts, I would say it’s one of the heaviest tracks I’ve ever heard. I love it.

13 is a collection of eight great tracks that bring one back to the 70’s. Rick Rubin said he wanted the album to sound contemporary, but also have a vintage feel, and with this record he definitely captured that vibe. Sabbath is back!

-B. Harlow

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John Fogerty Releases Collection of Re-Recorded Classics with Great collaborations

If there was a man who summed up the perfect mix of grit and charm it was definitely Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty. Fogerty’s voice and lyrics summed up a whole generation;s feelings, and have resonated throughout the ages, and now at age of 68 Fogerty has released a collection of some of his most known tunes re-recorded with some of today’s biggest artists spanning many genres and sub-genres. Some guests include: Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, and Kid Rock. The album was  released on May 28, 2013 Fogerty’s 68th birthday, and is a fitting celebration of Fogerty’s back catalogue.

The first track of Wrote a Song for Everyone is a re-recording of CCR’s most famous song and politically driven song, “Fortunate Son” and it features a great collaboration with Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters. It’s great to hear a more modern recording of this song, but the lyrics are still accurate as the day they were written.  Keith Urban provides a great performance on the next track, “Almost Saturday Night” which is a more obscure song, but was perfect for both Urban and Fogerty, as their voices synced in a very cohesive manner.  “Lodi” is the third track on the record, and this is where Fogerty’s two sons, Shane and Tyler, come into the picture, and they provide great performances.

One of the album’s two new songs was up next, and I found this song, “Mystic Highway” to be a great track, not only is it classic Fogerty, but it also feels very modern, and sing songish. It may be campy, but it works.

Zac Brown Band makes an appearance on the album’s rendition of “Bad Moon Rising.” The band’s music works perfectly when it comes to the track, as it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Musically ZBB holds up their end well, while Fogerty does his thing perfectly on guitar and vocals. Arrangement wise the song is excellent, and exceedingly fresh. “Born on The Bayou” featuring Kid Rock was the next track that I fell in love with. Kid Rock’s voice works so well in the country rock genre, and also compliments Fogerty’s voice with stylistic ease.

Wrote A Song For Everyone is a hybrid greatest hits and tribute album that works great. Fogerty picked artists that complimented his talents, and added a new twist to the record. The dude Abides.

-B. Harlow

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Johnzo West ‘Glory’

About a year ago Musically Diversified did an artist profile on singer/songwriter Johnzo West. Since then West has been very working on his own solo album and performing live with Billy Ray Cyrus. We recently got the opportunity to take a listen to West’s latest album, and we were blown away with the ten tracks he presents on Glory, which was released in February.

Glory is a great collection of songs that show West’s skills on guitar and vocals. The album starts off with a song entitled “Don’t Leave Me Hangin’” which is a track that starts off nicely with some great guitar work, but is definitely carried by a great vocal performance by West. The song really takes off during the chorus sections and is especially good during the wah drenched guitar solo. The next song is called “The Shallows” which is a track that has been re-worked from West’s 2008 release Bring On The Burden. It’s a great song that features a soulful performance from West on vocals.

“Heart of Stone” is another great track on the record. The lyrics tell a great story and the accompaniment suites the lyrics perfectly.  “Tell Your Mother” is the next track and this song has a very country feel, especially the drums which keep a steady beat that keeps the country time while the guitars slide in and out. West’s vocal fit perfectly over this track.

“The Constant” is the next track on the album, and it has a great funky feel from the beginning. The bass, guitars, and drums instantly catch your attention, and you get to the chorus and West’s vocals take over. “On My Way” is a great track that is an old school rocker and features great guitar work throughout. Lyrically it tells a great story too.

“The Good Fight” is probably my favorite track from West. Lyrically and musically it just works, and makes a very enjoyable listening experience for anyone involved. Arrangement wise the piano and guitar work excellently.

Glory is a great collection of tracks. Be sure to take a listen HERE

-B. Harlow

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Snoop Lion?

During the late summer of 2012 Snoop introduced a new stage name, Snoop Lion. He tells the story that when he was in Jamaica working on a new album that he went  to meet with Jamaicans and was rechristened Snoop Lion by a Rastafarian priest. Snoop then declared himself the reincarnation of Bob Marley who passed away in 1981, but Snoop was born in 1971, so the jury is still out on that part of the story.  He says the reason was partially due to not liking the violence in hip hop, and wanting provide the world light.

The album starts off with a track called “Rebel Way” which starts off with a monologue that may explain the Dogg Father’s transformation into Snoop Lion. “There’s so much death, there’s so much destruction, there’s so much mayhem, and there’s so much misunderstanding in music. We’re losing so many great musicians and we don’t love them while they’re here. And I want to be loved while I’m here, and the only way to get love is to give love,”  a very touching monologue which really is the mission statement behind Reincarnation. The song itself is a solid track consisting of well thought out lyrics and a steady back beat which carries the song.

When you think you’re getting into the record and believing the whole reggae thing the second track, “Here Comes The King” kicks in and you hear one of the most annoying things and that is the Major-Lazer tag. This ruined the song for me as it didn’t make the song feel like an authentic reggae track. The next track that comes up, “Lighters Up” makes up for it. It’s a great track that talks about unity and getting high together.

One of the best songs on the album is entitled “So Long.” It’s a strong track with a solid beat, but it doesn’t stray much from the traditional reggae sound which makes the track perfect. The song also has very good lyrics that are very potent and deserve the listener’s ears and undivided attention. Another track that is very lyrically strong is the sixth track “No Guns Allowed” which is a relevant song with all the violence in our world today. The lyrics of the track feature many interesting lines like the first verse which states “Money makes a man, and that’s a crime/If we all were rich we’d spend more time/With our daughters and sons their losing their minds.” This is a very touching lyric considering the events of last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School and all the other violence that happens on the streets.  The song also features Snoop’s daughter, Cori B, harmonizing nicely throughout. It also features a great verse from Drake.

The next song that is definitely worth a listen is Snoop’s collaboration with Miley Cyrus, “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks.” This song is great especially Snoop’s verse, but what carries the song is Cyrus’ slightly processed voice.

Overall I think this album has some great cuts. I think this change to Snoop Lion will be a good thing for everyone’s favorite from Long Beach.

-B. Harlow

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Black Sabbath Release First Song With Ozzy Osbourne on Vocals Since 1978! Our Review of “God Is Dead?”

Black Sabbath have released “God is Dead?” which is the band’s first single off their reunion album 13, which will be released June 11th. It is also the first song the band has released with original front-man Ozzy Osbourne since 1978’s Never Say Die, the bands final album with the classic line-up. It is also the first song we’ve heard with the band’s new drummer, Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine.)

“God is Dead?” starts off with a slow instrumental section that sets the mood for the song. This then gets interrupted by one of Tony Iommi’s signature riffs. You can hear how tight the band is on this riff especially bassist Geezer Butler and Wilk. The slow meandering riff comes back again and with it we hear Ozzy’s vocals which sound excellent. Rick Rubin did a great job polishing Ozzy’s voice on this song, as it is spotless in performance. Butler’s bass is super punchy during the verse too which gives the song a certain movement that is different from Iommi’s guitar playing which is very smooth. The chorus comes in and this is when we hear Black Sabbath as it is meant to be heard with loud riffs. Around the 5:55 the song hits a bridge and this is by far my favorite song as it fits in with the band’s older material like “Hole In the Sky.”

All in all “God is Dead?” is a great track which is very modern sounding yet would fit in with Black Sabbath’s earlier material.  Be sure to check this song! You can Pre-order 13 here and get an instant download of the song of the new track!

B. Harlow

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Can Fall Out Boy Save Rock & Roll?

Save Rock & Roll is a very ambitious title for an album, and I’m not really  sure Fall Out Boy came close to doing that, but they did put together an interesting album with some great songs including a collaboration with Elton John  on the album’s title track. To me this album is more of a statement that says Fall Out Boy is back and is going to be bigger than ever, but at a cost.

The album starts out with a track called “The Pheonix” which starts off with an interesting orchestral part that was unexpected when first listening to the album. Patrick Stump’s vocals come in over the accompaniment, and then the chorus comes in and you really get an idea about the album. It’s all about big choruses. Next up is the album’s first single “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark (Light Em’ Up)”  which is a very annoying song because of the mix. If the guitars were further up in the mix the song would have sounded a hell of a lot better, but the drums and sampling overpower the guitar.

The next track on the album is entitled “Alone Together.” I actually liked this song due to the arrangement, and songwriting. Musically it flows very well, but the lyrics are what bring the song above the level of a typical pop song. This song is followed by “Where Did The Party Go” which has an intro featuring the much improved bass playing of Pete Wentz. The track is very narrative when it comes to lyrics, and this story really carries the song, as there is nothing substantial music wise on this track.

One of my favorite tracks on the record is the song “Just One Yesterday” which features British songstress, Foxes. The song is very well written and is also arranged well. The song is also mixed well especially when Foxes and Stump are singing together. It’s a fantastic track that will definitely do well if it were to be released as a single. It is followed nicely by “The Might Fall” which features rapper, Big Sean. This song features a highly tampered with drum track, but also feature a great riff from Trohman, and it is the first time you hear Trohman’s guitar up in the mix.

The next track to take note of is the band’s collaboration with Courtney Love, “Rat A Tat” which starts off when Love says “It’s Courtney Bitch.” This track is an all-around fun track which mixes the bands old sound with their newer over-produced tone. Love’s rawness adds a lot to the track, but I definitely think its Wentz’s bass that drives the track.

My favorite track on the album is the last track, “Save Rock and Roll” which is a collaboration with the legendary, Elton John. This song blew me away, and is definitely the only song on the album that is going to matter five years from now. The band comes together perfectly on the track, and even the sampling works well, but what brings this track over the top are Elton John’s amazing vocals.

Will this album save Rock and Roll? The answer is no. But this is a good album featuring some excellent songs. If Fall Out Boy were to make an album that were to save Rock and Roll they’d definitely have to take a hint from Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley’s side project The Damned things and play some damn riffs.

-B. Harlow

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Ghost B.C.’s Second Satanic Opus ‘Infestissumam’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the hard rock and heavy metal world you know that one of the hottest bands out is the Swedish cult metal favorites, Ghost B.C. Ghost B.C. is a masked band featuring  a singer who goes by the name of Papa Emeritus, and a band of ghouls. The band released their debut album in 2010 entitled, Opus Eponymous, which made the band an instant hit among metal listeners looking for something different. Ghost B.C. also got high-profile endorsements from people in the metal scene including Metallica’s James Hetfield and Down front-man  Phil Anselmo. The band also got to play onstage with Down at Download 2011. The band released a stream of their new album Infestissumam this week, and we got to take a listen and needless to say we were impressed by the offering which will be released next Tuesday.

The album starts out with the title track “Infestissumam” which starts off with a choral arrangement that leads into a heavy rock song. This is a great intro track especially, as it sets the tone for the rest of the album. It also leads nicely into the next track, “Per Aspera ad Inferi” which is stylistically similar to their first release, Opus Eponymous. The track moves nicely into the album’s first single, “Secular Haze.” “Secular Haze” is another great track from the band he song starts with an organ riff that sounds like it would be played at a carnival from your worst nightmare. It is soon joined by drums and guitar. Eventually the vocals join, but around the 1:34 mark the song gets very melodic within the music and vocals. Around the 3:15 mark there is a great musical interlude which ends in another verse, which then goes into another chorus, but with this chorus the song ends. This was definitely my favorite track on the album.

“Jigolo Har Megiddo” is the fourth track on the new album, and this track is really cool, as it is a real change-up. It has a real pop feel, but definitely feels like it’s a pop song that would be featured in a haunted house. The next song on the album is “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen,” this song is another favorite from the record because stylistically it is very dark, but has a very 70’s vibe to it. It almost sounds like what would happen if Blue Oyster Cult and Pink Floyd had a musical love child.

“Year Zero” is another track from the album that I really enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed the intro which is capella, and very staccato this lead into a riff that to me, said a lot for such a simple riff. The vocals came in next and this is when the track started to take off especially the chorus which reminded me of early solo Ozzy musically, but vocally it reminded me a lot of King Diamond.

The next track that caught my attention was “Depth of Satan’s Eyes” which is a very doom metal sounding track. I quite enjoyed it though do the riff that was pumping and steady. The final track on the album is titled, “Monstrance Clock” it is a great song especially the guitars thorough out the song and the synth solo.

Infestissumam comes out this coming Tuesday, April 16. You can pre-order it here, and stream the entire album here!

-B. Harlow

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