Category: Album Reviews

RAIN CHECK – DROWN – REVIEW

Singles released by smaller bands on the radar can easily a be hit or miss. This is where Rain Check definitely hit the mark. Forming in Abilene, Texas, ‘Drown’ marks the second release this year by the American quintet, a release that has quite a lot to show.

Lets take it from the start. ‘Drown’ has that dark atmospheric opening one would perhaps expect for such a post-hardcore//Emo//alt crossover. In some respects, it’s quite hard to singularly define the track to one genre, as it encompasses such strong elements of all three it becomes its own entity. Tyler Walkers soft, flowing vocals heavily contrast to the sinking depth of the instrumental backing almost embodying the tracks title in a musical aspect – a clever idea and talent. Then comes the bridge. Embodying a soft, emo styled lyrical and vocal pattern throughout, the breakdown of the bridge truly highlights that final blow to listeners, before ending on the quick cathartic straight cutout to end.

There is very little to dislike about Rain Check’s single. The impressiveness of the track as a whole never diminishes and instead, gives a very good track bordering on 10/10. To condense into a short sentence: ‘Drown’ is definitely one to add to your alternative playlists.

Rating: 9/10

AVENOIR – 3027 – REVIEW

We’re a bunch of kids who want to make a piece of art. We want to make a statement and a lot of noise’, exactly how this release is defined. ‘3027’, the first concept release from West Yorkshire alt-grunge band Avenoir.

Opening with ‘The Darkest Hour’, a unsettling atmospheric approach is taken, forming a long dragged out opening of almost horror music to set a tone. For setting an atmosphere from the start, Avenoir do well but length is a slight issue. The opening drags out very long which would work at points, however in this case, is just too dragged out. Yet, this darker theme is brought forward once again ending ‘Krakow P’, almost bringing a subtly underlying concept to the release. However, final track ‘Shoe Lick’ does take away the concept underlay sadly, even separating the tracks ever so slightly.

Lyrically, Avenoir follows their genre statements well, following lyricism of apathy and alienation, specifically in ‘Krakow P’, a lack of freedom, confinement and hints at war as explored in ‘The Darkest Hour’. Lyricism is simplistic in some forms, something in a way that is expected from previous releases ‘Columbus’ and ‘Leviathan’ but still portrays a poignant point when listened to in depth. One of the slight flaws that arises with the EP, is that there isn’t necessarily a range through the tracks. Each track sounds very similar, with each section of each track being incredibly similar from verse to chorus. With the grungy alt feel Avenoir are going for, diversity isn’t always the most important aspect, but this is something the band could perhaps work on with their next release.

Avenoir are a young band, new to the scene and still have a way to go. ‘3027’ shows that the trio have a direction, know their genre and that they understand where they want to go; refining this will be their next step.

Rating: 6.5

LIFELUST – SOCIOCIDE – REVIEW

Is our society falling into a state of self-destruction? This is the question alternative metal Band Lifelust are asking in their latest release ‘Sociocide’.

The track itself has a deeper context, far from that of something simplistic and plain, instead delving into something much more serious. The tracks focal point is its title ‘Sociocide’, the “the self-destruction of a society” and in the track, falling into oblivion. From a deeper insight, lyrically this track as previously stated knocks down into something more serious, a factor that can sometimes be lost within the complexity of the tracks rhythm and breakdowns. However, Lifelust hit the mark with ‘Sociocide’, spreading their internal message across very cleverly. In terms of its post-hardcore balance, the tracks smooth transition from screams to cleans is well achieved, leaving no gaps and saturating the outer presence of the song. Whole the track is mainly atmospherically dark and heavy, the opening clean vocal segment at the beginning of the track is perhaps the one part that doesn’t fit quite as well. By no means does it not work, because it has a place, but at the same time seems a little odd, and is quickly shadowed compared to the rest of the track.

Overall, Lifelust have come out with a track that pushes the importance of meaning in a track and just how it can push a track forward. Lifelust have given ‘Sociocide’ a purpose, something fulfilling that they can spread, that they should be proud of.

Rating: 8/10

MAYPINE – BEND/BREAK – REVIEW

Maypine have changed. Anyone who remembers their first EP ‘In The Back Of My Mind’ will be surprised at the level of change Maypine have embraced in their newest release. After a traumatic house fire destroyed nearly all of vocalist Jase and his fiancée’s possessions, it is completely understandable as to why such a change has come. The question is whether they have the potential and dedication to pull off an a diverse change with ‘Bend/Break’

‘Give’, as previously discovered, is a major step forward in Maypine’s new stylistic development. All traces of the old band are hidden beneath a much slower, darker atmospheric piece. Could the track have a little more depth? Potentially. Simplicity works well for the opening track, but can form a slight repetitive feel in the tracks chorus. ‘Kodokushi’, named respectively after the Japanese phenomenon of dying alone and undiscovered is rather similar in terms of a darker atmospheric approach (if not already hinted by its name). Echoing a strong catchy riff throughout the track, a strong start is certainly formed, becoming consistent to its end. A shift between verse and chorus is definitely more apparent, with the subtly contrasting upbeat guitar tones and fast drum beat bouncing off the more sorrowful lyrical aspects. Yet, the track still feels like it’s missing something, something different to the overused guitar patterns of the EP and the saddening lyrics. An idea that Maypine are on the edge of finding but haven’t quite found.

Penultimate track ‘Weather’ is one that during the first few seconds, seems to be poised as the more positive track from the EP. The truthful fact is, it’s not a super upbeat track as may be assumed. ‘Bend//Break’ isn’t necessarily a super upbeat pop-punk track, neither are Maypine. The track symbolises “letting your guard down and opening up to people. Specifically in this case, it refers to the person you love” and in it’s own way, ‘Weather’ perfectly sums exactly what is described, similarly to the whole album. As a symbolism for the EP, not every song is upbeat and happy, nor slower and darker, Instead, a well thought out mix protrudes through the release bringing a balance that works well for such a direction.

Final track ‘Together Alone’ incorporates more of a generalised alternative rock styling, with an opening in some ways slightly reminiscent to ‘How You Remind Me’ from Nickelback. Whether or not you like and/or agree, Maypine definitely weave in a heavier style. Verse wise, musical input is very simplistic, emphasising Jase’s clear vocals and lyrics. Evolving into the chorus, the heavy transcendence Maypine reach truly speaks out as a top track from the EP. Of a release of good strength, ‘Together Alone’ most certainly tops this release as the most polished and well created.

Simply speaking, ‘Bend/Break’ isn’t revolutionary. It’s difficult to predict their next steps as a band, whether they will move forward on such a style or if they will bend again to a new genre. For a (second) debut, this isn’t bad, a little repetitive and room for development definitely. However, It’s good with at least two out of four tracks certainly above the average for a smaller debut release. Worth a listen if you have the time.

Rating: 7/10

ANNISOKAY – UNAWARE – REVIEW

It’s becoming clear that many of Europe’s upcoming post-hardcore bands are rising from Germany. Having released their most recent album ‘Devil May Care’ in late 2016, German post-hardcore rockers Annisokay are now progressing on to their next release ‘Arms’, releasing their first new single ‘Unaware’ earlier today!

There’s been a noticeable improvement across the bands current three album discography. ‘Unaware’ is different in more subtly distinct ways, while the subtle inclusion of cut up vocals after the chorus is not a new style, it is a more uncommon factor for the metal group. It is also not difficult to pull out Christoph Wieczorek’s distinct clean vocals in the track, a key thread in helping to string all of Annisokay’s material together. Paired together effortlessly with Dave Grünewald’s scream vocal additions, the two blend well in a flowing form, creating a polished track with few faults to name.

‘Unaware’ is a very strong track, a single definitely worth the anticipation. With ‘Arms’ set for release on August 17th, if this single is anything to base it off, a very strong album is on the way.

Rating 9.5/10

HOUSE FIGHT – DROWN – REVIEW

Hailing from Birmingham Alabama come House Fight, a debut band releasing their debut single ‘Drown’. So what do House Fight have to offer?

‘Drown’ is a fast paced pop-punk track. Is there much else to say? Not really. Every aspect in the track that should be distinguishable is mashed so heavily together that it just forms one large block of sound. The tracks overall rhythm is good and is kept through the track. While it may become slightly repetitive towards the end, the band do include a little acoustic moment, gang vocals and a little different ending to shake things up. House Fight do achieve the aspects of pop-punk no doubt and do have a set genre they fall into, but still have a little way to go to push this into their own original style. ‘Drown’ itself does fall more on the generic pop-punk style, but what’s important is that the band know their style well and know their genre goal.

This is House Fight’s first track and sometimes it does take a little while to really define a bands sound. Don’t give up on them just yet, cause they could surprise you.

Rating: 3.5/10

YOU KNOW THE DRILL – SELFHOOD – REVIEW

‘Selfhood’ is a turning point in You Know The Drill’s development as a band. Factoring in a much greater recording quality and a noticeable forward development in their lyricism, this EP is a big step forward for the Midlands based band.

As a leading single, ‘Snake Eyes’ gives an overall approach to what this EP sounds like. With a guest vocal appearance from Joey Fleming (In Her Own Words), the track is a nice push into the future release. The bands second single however, ‘Homesick’, admittedly could have fared better as the band’s first single. ‘Homesick’ is an all-around strong track, only lacking the guest vocals that perhaps helped push ‘Snake Eyes’ to the top of the bands single list. While the track doesn’t necessarily capture the catchy hook/chorus that most pop-punk tracks seamlessly use, it’s heavily guitar lead elements keep the track enjoyable and entertaining.

On the other hand, ‘Overcast’ as the EP’s opener isn’t the most memorable. Fitting more of a general introduction, there is nothing there to help it really stand out in any particular way. Similarly, with ‘Suspect’, the track is good, but it just falls slightly below the line compared to the other tracks. With any pop-punk record, it is easy to fall into a repetitive cycle which You Know The Drill do occasionally rick falling victim to. Strong tracks with memorable lines, but not quite enough to stand out on top.

However, ‘Blossom’ is definitely the most variant of the EP’s five tracks – the acoustic ballad. What is a pop-punk release without one? To put out a track in a more intimate and emotional perspective, You Know The Drill certainly check all the boxes. With the EP’s pre-production produced by Alex Adam of ROAM, it is no surprise that the soft acoustic style is reminiscent of the acoustics from their similar counterparts ROAM.

To put it in a simple way, ‘Selfhood’ is a much cleaner, polished development of their debut ‘Losing Streak.’ You Know The Drill have solidified their sound and it is now just a matter of strengthening further throughout their future releases.

Rating 8/10

WITH CONFIDENCE – THAT SOMETHING – REVIEW

After concerning allegations and the removal of a member late last year, it was unclear whether we would ever hear from pop-punk band With Confidence in the scene again. However, dropping a bombshell announcement of a new album, tour and new single, they are back to reclaim their title.

‘That Something’ is definitely different from the tracks off their debut ‘Better Weather’, whether it’s a more uplifting approach to the loss the more evident pop-punk traits they used to embody, this single definitely ranges more into a soft rock/ alternative approach. The chorus itself is the catchy central hook of the track, not too overpowering, but slotting in well through the uplifting track. Even the slower, simplistically styled verses have their place, not too forced but instead a nice breathing space among some of the faster paced singles that have been released in the past.

If anything, With Confidence have found ‘That Something’ could be the blossoming of the bands new direction, one that we are highly anticipating from their new album ‘Love And Loathing’.

Rating: 8/10

HOMEFRONT – BREATHING SPACE – REVIEW

The wait for a new single from Homefront has been highly anticipated, being 10 months since their debut release of ‘Faultlines’. The question is, do Homefront give listeners the breathing space they need to stand out?

As for sticking to their respective genre, ‘Breathing Space’ has all the elements of a pop-punk track, fast sound, gang vocals and even a catchy chorus to match. The distinctive vocals from Peter Harvey give a distinctive tone to the track, while the remaining instrumental patterns are clearly set in place throughout the majority of the track. Despite a slight factor of repetitiveness through the tracks progression, the song itself definitely does grow the more you listen, with the catchy choruses taking the main forefront and verses acting as good secondary fillers.

Is the track super original? No and honestly, the pop-punk genre is one that is hard to break into. However, Homefront have presented us with a worthwhile track that will help them break out into their local Australian scene, if not further in the next few months/years.

Rating: 8/10

DREAM STATE – RECOVERY – REVIEW

The second EP from Dream State, ‘Recovery’, has hit our platforms, bringing with it a hype across the rock scene as to just who the Welsh 5-piece actually are. Quickly building up a hype and audience and being placed onto festivals and shows across the country has great connotations, but do the 5-piece really have something to show?

‘White Lies’ ultimately showed the biggest developmental change from their debut ‘Consequences’ back in 2015. Helping the 5-piece find their sound and audience the track, while not being the most outstanding creation in the scene, does hold creativity and potential Dream State have. Pushing forward on this track, the rest of the EP is developed thoroughly and well, with massive choruses and build-ups to truly form not just a sound, but an atmosphere. Similarly, ‘Solace’ also reinforces the EP’s massive atmospheric rocking choruses. Even though vocalist CJ’s vocals are the main standout of all the tracks, ‘Solace’ finds a way to stick in your head with the catchy backing infused so well into the chorus and bridge.

‘In This Hell’ once again sells the bands hard work and style development while ‘Help Myself’ brings forward the heaviest post-hardcore tinged rock style track Dream State encapsulate so well. Yes, CJ’s powerful vocals do form a central focus of the EP, yet this doesn’t bring down any of the other parts of the Ep’s creation either. Both Aled and Rhys guitar work carefully fits to help emphasise the slower, emotional moments and truly help power the faster heavier elements.

However, ‘New Waves’ is ultimately the most different of the three singles, let alone the whole EP. Instead of taking a more generic approach with a large pounding track to end on, Dream State instead have created the softer track of the EP. Not saying this track is a completely different genre to the rest, but ‘New Waves’ does pull itself apart from the rock/post-hardcore style of the EP ever so slightly to stand out alone.

One thing that is questionable though is the tracklist of the EP itself. Being formed of three already released singles over the last year and two new tracks, there just wasn’t as much to expect compared to if the EP was formed of newer tracks.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Dream State will become huge. This EP proves it and if the band keeps up this great performance and production streak, they can easily launch themselves further, perhaps even to an international scene sooner than expected.

Rating: 8/10