M. Drew's blog

Album Review: RAM - "Death"

RAM is a band that clings to the belief that heavy metal has been a misguided, wayward genre since the early 1980’s, drifting away from its homeland on unnecessarily blood-soaked tides.

RAM’s third studio album, named simply “Death,” is an album that is very late to heavy metal’s party. It is dressed to the nines in acid wash denim, crunchy guitar hooks, studded jackets and simple, refined beats. To glance at the band’s idiomatic lettering and cover art is to jump into the WABAC machine and gaze at metal’s past come to pulsating life.

Album Review: Candlelight Red - "The Wreckage"

There is no discernible reason I should enjoy this album. There's nothing especially revolutionary about it, no novel innovations of musical genius, no genre-bending composition of elements, no inspired, emotive soliloquies to make one pick up an axe and return to the fray.

Yet, there's an inimitable something about Candlelight Red's can-do album that makes me unable to dislike it.

Album Review: SHEAR - "Breaking the Stillness"

SHEAR’s new album “Breaking the Stillness” is a brazen attempt to blend as many oversized elements as possible into a tiny suitcase, and slam the lid closed before the contents eject chaotically around the room. Somewhere between 80’s synth arena rock, Scandinavian guitar metal and new era Euro power metal, this album is a lot of things to a lot of people and perhaps not everything to anyone. Whether you’re looking for a dense, instrument heavy headbanger or something recognizable and accessible for a road trip, this album can, oddly enough, serve both of your needs.

Forgotten Classics: Annihilator - "King of the Kill"

With the 1991 release of the Black Album, Metallica irrevocably changed both the course and public face of heavy metal. The genre was changing; evolving into a mass-marketed medium that was willing to sacrifice the high-speed tempos and thrash mentality that had carried the genre through much of the 1980's. In place of that idiom stood a sound that attempted to bridge the gap between Judas Priest and Slayer, Black Sabbath and Nuclear Assault. Metallica had established a tenuous beachhead on the precipice of both mainstream accessibility and superstardom.

Album Review: The Devil's Blood - "The Thousandfold Epicentre"

With a name like "The Thousandfold Epicentre," it probably goes without saying that the new album from The Devil's Blood is not to be taken likely. I feel no shame in admitting to you that this review has taken me longer than any review I have ever composed. The album is a dense tapestry of elements both sanguine and chaotic, hypnotic and variable, fragile and durable. After the fifth time through this album, I looked back at my collected notes to see what thoughts I would put to paper.

Album Review: Machine Head - "Unto the Locust"

Machine Head’s newest album, “Unto the Locust” is not an effort recommended for those succored by simplicity. Unlike the Deep Purple album that the band’s name invokes, this brand of American heavy metal is not for those looking for a hallucinogen-induced quadraphonic, two-four downbeat good time.

Album Review: Gorillaz - "The Singles Collection, 2001-2011"

Somehow, in the shady days of post-grunge radio, when music struggled to find a definable scene or sound, in the midst of the detritus of Staind and the early birth pangs of Disturbed, came the Gorillaz. A quirky British act based on animated characters and the unexplored mental depths of Blur frontman Damon Albarn, the Gorillaz dominated an entire musical cycle without ever bending to the mold.

Album Review: Autumn - "Cold Comfort"

Autumn's new album "Cold Comfort" is a work befitting its creator's name. Varying between pleasantly warm and icily fragile, "Cold Comfort" is both a promise of uneasy transition and muted optimism. That said, this album would have been more complete if there had been one breakthrough moment at the end of it. There are those who would counter that autumn as a season seldom announces winter's arrival with anything but a whimper.

Album Review: Austrian Death Machine - "Jingle All the Way"

Bing Crosby. Andy Williams. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Mannheim Steamroller. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Austrian Death Machine? One of these names is clearly not in the same ballpark with the others (and no, it isn't the Choir.)

Album Review: Hollywood Undead - "American Tragedy Redux"

No one has ever quite been able to accurately explain to me what exactly Hollywood Undead is, what audience they’re shooting for, or what their message is. That’s not to say that these are rhetorical questions directed at the powers-that-be running the multiverse, but I’ve never been confronted with the answer. Are they just a rap rock band out of their decade? Are they self-effacing in some subtle way? I’m a man who loathes genre-fication, but I admit I’ve never been sure who this appeals to.

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