Category: Album Reviews

LIFEHACK – TIME TO SAY GOODBYE – REVIEW

Lifehack are taking a risk. Coming from Hungary with a goal to reach listeners across their country, the exuberant rockers produced a 7-track album to gain national success. However, with a desire to reach out to an international audience, Lifehack have written and are debuting their first full English EP, with the hopes of showcasing their style to the world.

Without a doubt, from the start of ‘brave’, it is clear vocalist Anna Sevena’s soft vocals form a perfect fit to the track. While perhaps a little deeper instrumental layering could help bring this track a little more, the vocals and the instrumentals are put into their own layers, with no real distinct layer for each individual aspect. Yet, with a more atmospheric, flowing track such as ‘Brave’, this doesn’t cause a massive issue through the track.

Opening up the three track EP is ‘Wait Up’. Now, once again the issue of a depth in the tracks isn’t the clearest part of the track. However, this may just be a part of the process Lifehack will go through to evolve as a band. The track itself in terms of verses is rather basic, but Lifehack form this in a way that amplifies the vocal aspects more and, in turn, emphasise the deeper lyrical aspect of the track.

Yet, it is title track ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ that is the standout of this album. Holding the similar genre styling of the accompanying two tracks of the EP, this has a slightly heavier, deeper opening through the track. Is the track perfect? No, but the thing about it is, it doesn’t need to be. While some improvements could be developed in future releases, this track is probably the most developed off the EP and truly does stand out as a singular track/

Overall, Lifehack have put out a good attempt at an English EP. Following onto a new singing style from a more traditional Hungarian lyric style can be difficult, but it appears that the band have made this transition their own and done this rather well.

Rating: 7/10

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YOU KNOW THE DRILL – SNAKE EYES – REVIEW

You Know The Drill have been dwelling in and around the local Birmingham scene since the release of their debut single ‘No Ambition’, occasionally venturing outside this border. However, with new single ‘Snake Eyes’ already gaining recognition and a playthrough from Radio 1 and a new EP ‘Selfhood’ to follow, could this be the start of something bigger for the 4-piece?

Following their previous release ‘Losing Streak’, ‘Snake Eyes’ is already a massive improvement upwards in terms of recording/mixing quality. Even from the start everything is clear, from quickfire guitar track to the underlying basslines. Of course, at first, like with many songs in this genre, this track could appear to be just your average pop-rock playlist track, but in itself it is a lot more than just that if you give it the chance. This band are familiar with the average sound of the genre and fit into this well, yet at the same time bring their own aspect to the table. Vocals from lead vocalist Benji Yapp help add a distinct tone to the track, while even the extra harmony/fill-in vocals by Luke Astley add a nice light touch to the track. Even guest vocalist Joey Fleming (In Her Own Words) adds a subtler raw vocal touch to the final part of the track and while not entirely necessary, an enjoyable touch either way.

Keep an eye on their new music, as You Know The Drill are moving forwards, and if their new EP ‘Selfhood’ is anything to be based off this song, this could be their ticket to launch them out further into the rock scene.

Rating 8/10

SPEAK, BROTHER – YOUNG & BRAVE – REVIEW

From the release of their debut EP in 2014 to now, Speak, Brother have done nothing but build-up their strengths all the way to the release of their debut ‘Young & Brave’.

The indie/folk band are no strangers to creating beautifully open stories, nor does this appear to have been any apparent issue within the release. The ‘vulnerable, honest, ethereal’ music never fails to show through all sides, exploring the youthful reminiscence of ‘When We Were Young’, to the evolution story of ‘The Pond Boy’. Yet, the lyrical aspects aren’t just the high points of this album. The cleverly diverse aspects incorporated  into the tracks, such as the beautiful female guest vocals on ‘Father’, which beautifully coagulates to emphasise and amplify the emotion. On the other hand, the carefully layered ending of ‘Empire’ brings a perfect end to not only the track itself, but the album as a whole.

Development is a key factor, most clearly observed within their re-release of ‘Lions Roar’. The evolution of the original 2015 single to now shows not only creative improvement, but also their ever-increasing ability to form a packed track with truly powerful choruses alongside. Even bringing themselves full circle with the re-recorded ‘Two Bands of Gold’ from their debut EP, the band present how they can carefully recreate a track, but still capture the same pure emotion in the honest story and atmospherically stripped back style. It’s clear that every member provides a key part to each track, nothing is left behind, erased or overshadowed. Remove one aspect, be it the carefully laid out guitar patterns to the foundation of the tracks drum beats, the track in no way could be the same, nor reach the same standard.

Speak, Brother offer the rare vulnerability often lost by others in obsessive, overproduction. The balance within ‘Young & Brave’ is one of the aspects that makes this album true to how it should be, nothing is lost. ‘Magnesium Burn’, despite being one of the more upbeat, radio style songs, the deeper lyrical aspect is still found from all depths. As James Herring (Vocals) states: ‘This song comes from a deep well of frustration in my life. There is this deep longing to just run. Run into the dark places… it’s at those places when we’re most uncomfortable and just a about out of control of the outcome, where we really live, grow and become free.’ Through the powerful musicality and vocal aspects of this track, nothing about its true meaning is lost, and this is a talent Speak, Brother truly embrace.

The feelings this album evokes are far from subtle. The complex ethereal sound that Speak, Brother produce is something they have worked for and developed over time. This is a great debut album worth its praise.

Rating: 9.5/10

DEAD LIKE JULIET – STRANGER SHORES – REVIEW

It’s rarer to hear about metal bands coming in from Italy, but Dead Like Juliet are one of the bands about to make themselves known much more internationally. With just two EP’s out already, the 6-piece metal band are now debuting their first album ‘Stranger Shores’ on April 7th.

Everything about ‘Stranger Shores’ is conducted in a very intriguing, high quality style. Individually, each track has something different to bring (as it should), even if it is a subtler difference. Undoubtedly, the singles are incredibly strong musically as well as video wise. ‘Those Rivers’ incorporates a recognisable hardcore genre base, while weaving razor sharp vocals, cutting riffs and a strong beat that never falls flat in any noticeable way. Even ‘Unwanted’, while having perhaps a less crisp audio acoustic style opening, produces an incredibly strong impacting, memorable chorus that gives a perfect pre-expectation to the album.

Yet, not one single, nor track can give a true overview to this record. With little distinguishable factors in each track, many of the songs have a diversity to make them stand out in their own right. Title track ‘Stranger Shores’ follows through with a fast paced and unconventional pre-chorus. While many pre-chorus structures incorporate a form of quickfire build-up to the chorus, or a very slow segment beforehand, this track creates a subtle contrast, forming a middle ground that amplifies the chorus to a greater extent. On the other hand, ‘Wanderer’ evokes a perfect example of how Dead Like Juliet can also create slower tracks of a similar quality. Including a poetic spoken word opening and a more atmospheric instrumental, despite the words themselves being slightly inaudible, the track explores the softer side of the band that was yet to be found through the album.

However, while the record is very well recorded, written and produced, there are the odd few flaws that do come out at various segments. ‘Built on Crime’ is a track that does fall slightly under the rest of the tracks, still having a good quality but looping into a more repetitive style after a while. Even though the excellent guitar riff of the track builds up the potential, the shorter track does appear to become slightly drawn out through its progression. Even as the first glimpse of Dead Like Juliet’s slower side is revealed, the atmospheric opening becomes lost quickly in the harder verses, as does the more personal lyrical side of it. Nevertheless, even though these tracks do show perhaps slight little missteps, they are still very well created and do not fail to have their own place within the album itself.

Dead Like Juliet have created an excellent debut. From just one EP and a few demos already released, the 6-piece have shown remarkable talent and musicality. Here’s to hoping they can keep this streak up, as if they can, they have whole range of talent to show for it.

Rating: 9/10

THE CROWN REMNANT – FROM DAMNATION TO DELIVERANCE (THE JOURNEY) – REVIEW

It’s well known that the LA scene is well oversaturated with musicians trying to stand out. The Crown Remnant are another one of those bands, fighting to make them self known. However, the difference is, they have some great music to boost themselves up there.

The lyrical concept of the track ‘From Damnation To Deliverance (The Journey) is different to say the least. It’s not everyday you hear the words of a ‘nocturnal massacre’, but nevertheless, this more obscure idea is manipulated well into a track (and album) that may defy expectations. As tracks should, everything has a place in ‘Damnation…’. The guitar solos, quieter styled vocals, heavier bass lines, they all have a set fit place that doesn’t stick out for the wrong reasons. It’s one thing to throw these in for extra show-off points, yet to incorporate these well into a track is another thing. A solid track to say the least, especially just the track alone.

It’s one thing to say the band have a very messy music video, but the messy demeanour is captured in a crisp, high quality and clever manner. The Crown Remnant haven’t been subtle with their symbolism either, from the contrasting bright white performance shots to the grittier darker takes. Even the clever use of chiaroscuro falling between the action shots portray the visual concepts of light and dark within the lyrics itself. One issue that does stand out in the video is the performances. While it is hard to incorporate the look of proper playing, occasionally the full band shots just seem a little too forced. Either way, this visual story still has a lot of positive points.

It’s impressive what The Crown Remnant have out, especially with a smaller following at this time. Above all, not only do this band have good music to put across, but their dedication to their music is also what will take this band to the top.

Rating: 9/10

EDENTHORN – EXIST – REVIEW

Debut albums are definitely hit-or-miss. Sometimes, emerging talent will blow up on their first release, while others will just fall rather flat. Alternative rock quartet EDENTHORN are on the cusp of releasing their debut album ‘Exist’ on April 20th 2018, the question is, will it rise or fall?

‘Out Of The Dark’ serves as a promising opener to ‘Exist’. Interestingly, the chorus fits well in the balance being not too powerful to blow the track out of proportion, but also memorable to an extent. Single ‘Mind Like A Minefield’ also has its qualities, spreading a positive message within its lyrics and maintaining a consistant beat throughout. Both these tracks have a good promising outlook that hopefully would serve as a quick insight at the rest of the album as a whole. Yet these are from the better tracks off an eleven-song album.

One of the major issues that does fall in quite a few of the tracks featured on ‘Exist’, is that they become too repetitive very quickly. By no means do these tracks not have a potential. Every song from ‘Out Of The Dark’ to ‘Speak To Me’ has a strong start, and has the means to continue exploring the i dividing musical strengths within each track, but the progression doesn’t bring anything majorly exciting to the album. It seems that some end up falling down the same hole of becoming repetitive. Even the few attempts to break out of this such as the intro to ‘Live In The Now’ don’t save it and, inevitably, just seem a little awkwardly placed. However, veering away from the start of this track, the potential is cracked open more and more, if this could be reiterated in every track, there could be something incredibly strong.

There’s ni doubt that the first 30 seconds of grittier basslines in ‘Hearts Still Beating’ or the quick fire rapidness of ‘The Noise In My Head’ show an intriguing movement further through the album. Hearts Still Beating’ does helps save itself from the repetitive falldown by having a strong vocal chorus, maybe not as memorable, but either way, strong vocally and musically which is a good focus and strongpoint Edenthorn work well with. Even ‘The Noise In My Head’ has a good bridge and developed even further in future releases, can lead some of their tracks to truly blow up.

Edenthorn’s new album is highly enjoyable in small batches and there are some good standouts hidden amongst the full length, but as a whole, the album can feel a little drawn out. Nothing enticingly new or exciting comes to some of the presented songs, in the end they could all blend into one large combined feature. Yes, the themes of this album are strong and the songs have a clear potential from the start, but to bring this out even further throughout the entire album perhaps just needs a little more practice.

Rating: 5/10

CHOCOLATE – HEAVYWEIGHT – REVIEW

Hertfordshire three piece Chocolate have released their newest single ‘Heavyweight’, following on from their last release ‘Ninth Cloud’

Being the bands second single, they bring the same grunge tinted alt-rock power they brought in previous single ‘Ninth Cloud’. ‘Heavyweight’ brings a darker, gritty undertone throughout its progression, exploiting the alt-rock vibe they are infusing into their music. The slightly distorted vocals, powerful drum beats, deep wave basslines and interesting guitar patterns all bring their contribution to the track well. Yet, one thing this track doesn’t quite hit is the evolution of the track during its playthrough. The track lacks any excitement, or anything relatively new to give to listeners.

It isn’t a bad start, maybe not quite up to the standard of their previous debut, but they still have a way to go ahead of them yet. With time and practice comes improvement and Chocolate are already putting out good tracks. With time, we can expect even more.

Rating 5/10