Category: Album Reviews

DIVENIRE – WONDERLAND – REVIEW

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How many bands have you heard of from Stoke-On-Trent? The answer is probably few. This is about to change. Divenire are setting themselves a platform, releasing their debut EP ‘Wonderland’ to an audience of new listeners. Presenting themselves as ‘Goosebump inducing, emotionally powerful indie rock’, how far do the 4-piece live up to this expectation?
As far as emotional conveyance in the EP, ‘Captain of The Sea’ is an immensely strong contender. Storytelling is a side to Divenire merely scratched upon in single ‘Caravan’, but never truly delved into now. Weaving ambient guitars with echoic waves of backing vocals, the heart-wrenching story of a man and his fatal love and longing for the sea comes to life. Yet, if one issue is to be pointed out with the release, it is with the sound of the tracks. The depth is somewhat lost by the track’s compression, losing some of the layering. ‘S.I.A.R’ showing this issue the most and while not a major issue, is something to learn from.
Simplicity is a factor found in the EP, with ‘Old Oak Tree’ presenting what on the outside looks to be a simple backing. Simple drum patterns with repeating guitar leads graze the tracks outer layers. Yet, blend these separate components together and the track almost gives off an ambiance of colour. A talent emerging through this EP is the bands ability to balance simplicity and complexity. Presenting this in a way that doesn’t form a neutral middle-ground, but instead juxtaposes one another through each track. Take ‘Mercy’, a slow-burn bonus track with an opening simplicity, emerging into a layered, complex track in its prime. Like most tracks, the soft tones veiled in the undertones of the EP build the atmosphere around Wonderland release. Surrounded in what should be aura of sadness, the EP’s title track still offers an upbeat musical style in its chorus. But still adding a sub-conscious sadness in its depth.
Divenire have produced their own ‘Wonderland’ of storytelling, emotion and truth. There are improvements , but there are for any release. A relaxing listen with substance there should you wish to find it.
Rating: 9/10
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DIRTY SOUND MAGNET – SOCIAL MEDIA BOY – REVIEW

Political and social commentary is a rising theme in underground music. Dirty Sound Magnet have been brewing on this idea for years, especially in their 2017 album release ‘Western Lies’. However, a new era is coming for DSM, a fall into the world of their new single: ‘Social Media Boy’.
Combining a retro 70’s style with an easily recognizable sound, DSM know exactly where they’re heading with their new track. Flowing down a similar route to the style of previous 2017 album ‘Western Lies’, ‘Social Media Boy’ follows a similar standard. Despite mirroring previous tracks, there is still a distinguishable difference between this and previous releases. Exploring the diversity of their sound is always a fun task, as the range of each track varies so much. Similar lyrical themes, still portrayed in a new, intriguing way each time. ‘So many birthday wishes make you feel loved’ proves a sense of fragility and obsession in today’s society. Another example of DSM’s bluntly direct lyricism? Yes. Another aspect that heightens the trios music? Definitely.
 
As a glimpse of the music we are yet to hear, ‘Social Media Boy’ is another excellent single release from the group. Strength grows with experience. With the experience the band already have, they are definitely getting stronger.
Rating: 8/10   

ARCHITECTS – HOLY HELL – REVIEW

Architects have torn themselves down to the raw bones of their sound and rebuilt. After the tragedy Tom Searle’s (guitar) passing in 2016, it lead to questions on whether the band would ever be able to reconvene. Yet, with the joining of Josh Middleton on guitar, Architects have stepped up once again to release their eighth studio album ‘Holy Hell’
In an album, when you can feel a persons pain penetrating deeper than the intricate structure of a song, you know you are looking at more than a simple album. ‘Death Is Not Defeat’, brings about a mantra exposed to its bare roots in the records opening number. While this track encompasses a more dramatic, slower opening, in no way is this track one to leave out. From a musical perspective, the layering of this track (and album) is intricate and intriguing. With the clever heartbeat drum pattern to the hidden guitar riffs, these features help add a subconscious hidden depth. Topped with Sam Carters raw, cutting anguished vocals, this track is one of the many clever ideas Architects throw into the mix. Even single ‘Royal Beggars’ brings a diverse change to the albums nature. Dominated by deep basslines and a slower atmospheric approach, you can see the band are pushing the boundaries of their music. Carter’s lighter cleans add an ethereal tone to the track, bringing an extra kick of emotion to the curb of the tracks ultimate build-up. Architects want you to feel. To experience the pain they are writing. Listening in a full depth, the bridge’s melancholic lyricism, ‘We have totally lost our way’, offers both an emotional outpouring and a bridging connection to the albums listeners
 
Yet, to long-time listeners, its a common factor for the band to bring a theme of preordained doom to their tracks. ‘Modern Misery’s’ focus on the demise of humanity plagues the lyricism of the track, forcing the track into a black hole of raw vulnerability. Even varying in themes, the nods to Tom with ‘I will go to the grave with a song still in me’ still reign ever-present. Even title-track ‘Holy Hell’s’ downbeat, gloom-ridden riffs mixed with the orchestra style strings settle as a foundation to lift the track. The full flowing impact of mortality intertwined with the theme of mourning only makes this release more heartbreaking, truthful and inspiring,
 
Every track has something to offer. ‘Mortal After All’ and ‘A Wasted Hymn’ bring no hesitation to throwing the truthful punches of the album at full force. Lyricism still being a strong factor, ‘A Wasted Hymn’s’ slow building bridge centres around one line – ‘Can you live a life worth dying for’. Impacting lyrics are a strength of Architects work, providing an extra layer of depth in the song. But don’t let this depth fool you. ‘Holy Hell’ is still one hell of a metal record. ‘The Seventh Circle’ projects the bands heaviest riffs and sound, with Carter’s harsh barbed-wire vocals and heavy musicality melting together in some kind of incandescent fury.
 
With the tragedy of 2016, it was a surprise to many that Architects recouped so soon. It would be no surprise if many gave a pass to this album, due to the pain the band have endured over the previous two years. Yet, a pass of sympathy is one not given to ‘Holy Hell’. Instead, this album is everything expected and more. As a progression from predecessor ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us‘, Architects prove themselves as a well polished band. ‘Holy Hell’ is deserving of its place – and is possibly one of the greatest pieces of work Architects have ever showcased.
 
Rating: 9.5/10

GLASS HOUSES – LOST CHOICES – REVIEW

Following up a debut release is tricky, with added pressure of living up to your last release while keeping a similar structure to please an existing fan base, how exactly can you do it? This is the idea ND based band Glass Houses are ready to explore. Following up from their 2016 debut ‘Wellspring’ the tried-and-true band are bringing a new wave with their new single ‘Lost Choices’

An instant and a clear dominating factor of the tracks outreach is its strong drum beat basing as an extremely strong foundation for the track. Alongside the heavy rock-laden riffs and basslines, every aspect of the instrumental musicality is evident. Musically this track is incredibly strong, however in terms of vocals and lyricism, there is a noticable difference. The lyrics and vocals are very good, but sadly it’s almost as if a wave of generic sound washes over exposed sections of the track. While the hardcore edge of the second verse and the lighter stripped back touch of the tracks bridge bring a spark of new life to the band, the first verse and even parts of the chorus fall victim to something already heard. Yet, as a bridge combining the two sides of the track, the bridge itself is one of the most promising features of the track. Melding together the light singing with the emerging intensity of the unclean vocals, there begins a formulation of a musically stripped back, yet hauntingly present instrumental background with the inner personal depth of the lyrics protruding. If anything, that is the one focus to look out for in the track.

It can be said that ‘Lost Choices’ is perhaps different to the bands previous singles, in a good way of course. Sparks of life set this track alight and its finding these that can bring the track up to a whole different level. Make sure to check it out on its release on the 19th October or pre-save the track at the link below!

https://show.co/nLCbdxj

Rating: 7/10

STAND ATLANTIC – LOST MY COOL – REVIEW

‘You’re so full of shit, why don’t you swallow it?’ – the tagline of the fiery, cynical angst of second single ‘Lost My Cool’ presented by Stand Atlantic. In the line of fresh talent emerging from Australia, the trio made waves with their debut EP ‘Sidewinder’ in late 2017 and are now set to present their newest album ‘Skinny Dipping’ on October 26th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liWHie0irMg

From the start, ‘Lost My Cool’ instantly follows a different vibe to the fast beat-prevalent single ‘Lavender Bones’. Blatantly honest cynicism makes a running appearance through the lyricism and despite some lyrics being questionable at times, they  bring a simplistic message deep from the heart – I hate you. Interestingly, it feels as if this track is much more lyrically dominated, unlike the melodic, faced paced drum rhythmed cycle of its predeceasing single. Simple instrumentals, bringing the vibe of a more generic ballad/angst crossover. Yet, we can’t forget Stand Atlantic mainly claimed their spot in the scene with their quick fire energy shots from ‘Sidewinder’, to hear something slower and simpler is actually a nice change that we should appreciate – it can only be imagined there will be more on the final release.

Does ‘Lost My Cool’ stand up to ‘Lavender Bones’? Simply, no. In a more complicated sense, the two perhaps don’t match as well due to the different nature of the two tracks. Sadness and truthful experiences brush through both, but the whole approach to this presentation is completely different in both tracks. Can both could be compared as simply two singles? Of course, but that’s up to each individual listener to decide.

Rating: 7/10

STARSET – BRINGING IT DOWN 2.0 -TRACK/VIDEO REVIEW

With great cinematic depth, Starset create in-depth audio sequences that takes the listener through an array of atmospheres in each individual track. With the release of their new deluxe release ‘Vessels 2.0’, how does their one recreated track live up to its previous counterpart?

Listening from a new, outside perspective, ‘Bringing It Down’ and ‘Bringing It Down 2.0’ sound very similar in their depth of vocals, instrumentation and cinematic depth, but it’s the subtle edge the new track brings that pushes these layers further. An impressive fete from the band is their ability to change the atmosphere of the track by altering the 12 second pre-chorus’ and minor tweaks in the underlayers of the tracks. In its originality, ‘Bringing It Down’ follows an upbeat rhythm and tone, something fast and dramatic whereas in 2.0, the shift is that of something darker, heavier and more layered than before. Subtracting the upbeat, more synth-oriented samples and instead leaving a stripped back simplicity already instantly changes the track, but it’s the addition of the strings Starset use through their music that truly adds a new persona. Other than a few minor string additions, some production editing and clearer vocals, there is little that has been changed. However, it’s the way in which this has been done which is perhaps the most intriguing and effective. Creatively portraying two different atmospheric approaches in the two tracks is a clever direction to go. Was a second version of ‘Bringing It Down’ necessary? Probably not, but alongside a deluxe release, it fits in rather well.

As for the music video, Starset are no strangers to creating stories. With a visual novel released and award-winning videos for other album tracks, its no surprise that ‘Bringing It Down 2.0’ is an audio-visual story written by frontman Dustin Bates. Being set in such a style is different to how their usual videos are presented. Offering audiences a warning to the misuse of technology and a doomed society, instead we are given a simplistic yet dramatic action ‘boy saves girl’ narrative (with a twist). Of course, while the story does stray from the path of their previous visuals, the classic message of the ‘Starset Society’ still reigns true – even if subtly. The story doesn’t just revolve around the saving of the ‘heroine’, instead looks at the how future technological advances such as memory infiltration devices can be turned against us. Yet, even in subtle ways the message is spread, such as the holographic figures on gravestones (a possible link to the tracks lyrical aspect) always presenting an aspect of you through death.

In terms of cinematography, lighting and editing sequences, the video fits perfectly with the music it follows. Directed and edited by Brian Cox the video offers a clear homage to a gothic horror/action mystery crossover. From external establishing shots of gothic literature styled castles to Dutch angled mid-shots presenting a homage to ‘Frankenstein’, the video is very well presented in an ominous, gothic fashion with a modernised twist.

For a new and improved re-release, Starset have done a rather impressive job. As previously stated, not incredibly necessary, but a nice addition among the other reimagined acoustics/remixes of the ‘Vessels 2.0’ release.

Rating: 9/10

MKII – BREAKING OUT – REVIEW

Winning ‘best band’ at the unsigned music awards in 2017 with only one track released, MKII have set themselves a standard that is going to be hard to break. Recorded with producer Nicholas Fournier, even more expectations are set upon the duo, so how exactly do they fare in this new musical world?

MKII set their standards high with their original single ‘Breaking Out’. Mixed by Nicolas Fournier, (Muse, Biffy Clyro, Fall Out Boy), it’s easy to see where that varying musical influences stem from in the EP. Brash electronic vibes with a hint of simplicity is a complex technique that the duo has cleverly claimed from their first single and thrown across the whole release. Interestingly, while their single stands out, the other tracks do not fall behind whatsoever, all following a similar strength and potential throughout. As a whole, the talent seeping through this release is the bands ability to create almost an entirely new world just through their sound. The beauty of cinematic, atmospheric rock truly comes through here, especially through the track ‘Isolation’. Simplistic atmospheric expanses with hints of the cinematic touch MKII are bringing into their music.

‘Delirium’ picks up through its progression. A packed bridge with added strings (featuring the string quartet from the Up North Session Orchestra) and other effects turn the track into something comparable to a movie soundscape. Atmospherically, the musical duo is high up on adding a cinematic, open space aura to their tracks, giving listeners almost a story narrated by Alex Spychalski powerful vocals and Andy Hind’s electronic musicality. Even the end gives listeners a beautiful outro, something slow, supple yet still with that flowing heaviness etched deep in its core

Forwarding to ‘Victorious’, engraved with a simplistic, beautiful flowing pre-verse slowly evolving into the heavier core at the root of the groups sound. Perhaps a little more depth through the chorus is needed in this track, but that’s always an improvement that can be worked on in the future. A highlight of the track is the echoic backing vocals haunting the tracks inner layers, just one example of the hidden gems carefully filtered between the tracks layers. Then ‘Guilt’. Everything in this track flows in a very interesting way. The creative mindset shows the smooth techniques the duo can use to push their music down the stream of sound. Progression through ‘Guilt’ is like its own story, similar with ‘victorious’ in a simpler level. Being able to create a story, almost a sense of action or narrative simply through an instrumental styled approach is a skill well rounded by the group, showing they have the fundamentals of a cinematic sound.

MKII have had some big expectations thrown at them, but with five tracks and a defining sound they have broken through this barrier faster than ever expected. Could they be the next Muse? No, because this group are their own defined style that will only become more refined as they progress. Keep these guys on your radar, as they’re not losing sight of their future.

Rating: 10/10