album review

Sometimes when I hear a band for the first time I find myself thinking about their motivation. Why did they choose this style of music? What is their ultimate goal for the band? For example, when James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich started Metallica their stated goal was to create the greatest rock and roll band in the world. Other bands have slightly less lofty goals such as, "I just wanna rock and roll, man".

After a strong start to the decade, the thrash revival seems to be slowly fading back into the shadows.  The bands are still going strong, and are still pumping out records, but they aren't resonating the way they did just a few short years ago.  Much like the original wave of thrash, the music has become stagnant as the formulas have become entrenched, and there is little new being added to the mix.  The first albums by these bands felt fresh because thrash had been missing for so long, but now that they're common, the shortcomings are easy to see.

Are we forever doomed to repeat the history of popular music cycles?  It’s the logical question that one can ask when listening to “The Apocalypse DJ,” the new record from Swedish rockers Smash Into Pieces. 


Finally, we have reached the age where there are two distinct schools of punk in the traditional sense.  For those of us past a certain age, we think of punk solely in the most classic sense – the Ramones, the Clash, MC5, the Damned, on and on.


Yet there is a perfectly acceptable second school of punk, more in the vein of Rancid, that emerged roughly fifteen years later and it is in that image that we stumble across Gutterlife and their new record “Don’t Sleep.”


Coming off the greatest year I can ever recall, where he put out the epic masterpiece “Kaleidoscope” with Transatlantic, a brilliant solo album in “Songs From November”, and another great Flying Colors album, there was the inevitable question of what was to come next for Neal Morse.  The last five years or so, he has been on such an incredible roll that it's hard to fathom the amount of amazing music he has been responsible for.  My shelves are filling with his albums, as it seems everything Neal touches turns to gold.

Are you familiar with the Corrosion Of Conformity song "Diablo Boulevard" off of their "America's Volume Dealer" album? Well, the subject of this week's review is familiar with it. In fact,  they liked the song so much they named their band Diablo Blvd. On a related note, "Diablo Boulevard" is actually a very good C.O.C. song. You should check it out. But enough about the song... on to the band.

Diablo Blvd is a group that formed in 2005 and they have just released their third full length EP titled "Follow The Deadlights".

The legend of Dracula is many things to many people, but the story of Vlad the Impaler is surely one thing; metal. The life of a brutal ruler who put his enemies on spikes to scare away any potential rivals to his throne is the stuff metal is made of, and the fact that legend has it he then turned to the dark side and became the most famous vampire of all time, is just the icing on the cake.

We seem to be encountering a trend lately.  The album’s we’ve covered so far in 2015 all seem to fit neatly into the broad category of ‘I bet I know what this sounds like.’  Well, enter Engel into that field, with their new record “Raven Kings,” the latest entry from the veteran journeymen of Swedish melodic death metal.  Now, I can hear it already: ‘Another Swedish melodic death metal band, they probably sound just like Children of Bodom.’  First off, you’re wrong because CoB is Finnish.  Moreover, you’re wrong because the emphasis on “Raven Kings” is on ‘melodic.’

If you like any sort of melodic rock or metal, you probably know Frontiers Records as the leading force keeping that style of music alive, as well as the home of the majority of the bands and singers you've been listening to over the last two decades. They have been instrumental in stoking the fires of the careers of any number of bands, with a dedication to old-school music that refuses to believe the last ten years of metal evolution ever happened. That is, in many ways, a most welcome position to hold.

Now I know what you’re thinking – another Napalm Death record, it probably sounds like every other Napalm Death record.  But that’s not why we’re here, and that’s not why we go through these exercises.