CD Review: “Skeleton Coast” The Lawrence Arms

“Skeleton Coast”

The Lawrence Arms

Epitaph Records

Tracks: 14

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Chicago Punk’s The Lawrence Arms are set to release their 6th studio album July 17th titled “Skeleton Coast”.  The album which is being released via Epitaph records contains elements of the band’s sound which fans have come to love for nearly two decades. Although it was written and recorded before the Corona virus upended the world, “Skeleton Coast” sounds eerily prescient as it imagines an apocalyptic future where coyotes croon and wolf packs roam free

Coming in at 35 minutes spread over 14 tracks the latest offering from veteran punks The Lawrence Arms provides an upbeat lift during uncertain times. Don’t let the upbeat rhythms fool you as the albums lyrical content cuts deeps leaving a lasting impression that will stick with listeners long after the closing notes ring out. Having caught these guys last year opening for Bad Religion I was anxious to hear what the group’s latest studio album had to offer. Upon first listen I was drawn to tracks like “Quiet Storm”, “Belly of the Whale” and “Last Last Words” which are all straight ahead rockers showcasing the dual vocals of guitarist Chris McCaughan and bassist Brendan Kelly. The mixture of McCaughn’s smoothness with Kelly’s gravelly more rough and tumble approach give the band a solid one, two punch while drummer Neil Hennessy delivers the knock-out blow. For listeners wanting something a little more aggressive and fitting of the worlds current climate check out tracks like “Planes Trains and Automobiles”, “Demon” and “Goblin Fox Hunt” as they will certainly kick up the angst level.  

“Skeleton Coast” checks nearly all the boxes fans of melodic punk will be looking for.  As the follow up to 2014’s “Metropole” the album showcases the bands continued growth over the past six years between while still staying true to the sound which has endeared them to fans since the late 90’s. You have to commend The Lawrence Arms along with the countless other bands who are still putting out new music despite the inability to tour and support that material for the remainder of 2020. When an album is as good as “Skeleton Coast” is, I hope to hear these tracks echoing through our hometown venues sooner than later.

Track Listing:

1.) Quiet Storm

2.) Planes Trains and Automobiles

3.) Belly of the Whale

4.) Dead Man’s Coat

5.) Pigeons and Spies

6.) Last Last Words

7.) Demon

8.) Ghostwriter

9.) How to Rot

10.) Under Paris

11.) Goblin Fox Hunt

12.) Lose Control

13.) Don’t Look At Me

14.) Coyote Crown

CD Review: Lamb of God “Lamb of God”

“Lamb of God”

Lamb of God

Epic

Producer: Josh Wilbur

Tracks: 10

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

After a five year lapse veteran Virginia Metallers Lamb of God return with a brand new studio album simply titled “Lamb of God”. The ten track release which was produced by Josh Wilbur and is being released via Epic Records is the follow up to the bands critically acclaimed 2005 album “VII: Sturm und Drang”. “Lamb of God” is the first studio release to feature drummer Art Cruz who replaced Chris Adler after his departure from the group in 2019.   

Lamb of God wastes no time getting to the point with their latest self titled studio offering. The albums opening track “Momento Mori” features a haunting spoken lyric passage courtesy of Lead singer Randy Blythes while an equally eerie rolling guitar riff plays in the back background moments before giving way to a full on bombastic assault of your senses. “Momento Mori” is also the longest track of on the album clocking in at just under six minutes giving you ample time to get comfortable for the remaining nine tracks all of which pack an equally aggressive punch. Tracks like “Check Mate”, “New Colossal Hate” and “Resurrection Man” feature impressive dueling guitar work by Willie Adler and Mark Morton. The two players really complement one another in their attack giving each track a killer mix of equal parts shredding and chugging. Drummer Art Cruz is equally impressive across the board as his playing fits in seamlessly with that of bassist John Campbell providing a thunderous attack of low end thunder. “Lamb of God” also features a couple guest spots courtesy of Hatebreed front-man Jamey Jasta on the song “Poison Dream” and Chuck Billy of Testament on “Routes”. I highly recommend checking out both of those tracks as each of the guest performers spots add a little something special to an already impressive canvas.      

From front to back “Lamb of God” is a full on knock to your senses. Josh Wilbur hit it out of the park with the overall production of the album as it sounds great no matter if it’s played through ear buds or on large speakers. Each member’s performance seems to have been carefully crafted to insure it tied into the next without issue. Art Cruz undoubtedly had some big shoes to fill in his new full time role and he more than delivered as the band has never sounded tighter. Well worth the price of admission “Lamb of God” is a fitting soundtrack to this chaotic and uncertain time.   

Track Listing:

1.) Momento Mori

2.) Check Mate

3.) Gears

4.) Reality Bath

5.) New Colossal Hate

6.) Resurrection Man

7.) Poison Dream (feat. Jamey Jasta)

8.) Routes (feat. Chuck Billy)

9.) Bloodshot Eyes

10.) On The Hook

Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Lamb of God Bassist John Campbell here

CD Review: Iggy Pop “Lust For Life” Deluxe Edition

“Lust For Life” Deluxe Edition

Iggy pop

Virgin

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Included as part of the upcoming “The Bowie Years” 7 disc set exploring Iggy Pop’s Berlin-era releases “Lust For Life” The Deluxe Edition will also be made available separately and includes the original release of “Lust For Life” along with a second disc “TV Eye” which is a live album featuring rare outtakes and alternate mixes. Also included is a 40 page book of lyrics, photos and interviews housed in special multi-fold packaging,

More than 40 years after its initial release Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” remains as one of the most influential albums ever made as to this day it continues to inspire and influence artists of all genres both past and present. Disc 1 feature’s a newly mastered version of 1977’s “Lust For Life” courtesy of Tony Dixon. Each of the 9 tracks sounded great with the new mastering as there is just enough freshness added to make it the release shine on any of today’s audio format while still staying true to the albums original sound. Personally I really enjoyed tracks such as “The Passenger” and “Neighborhood Threat” as they just sounded so good blasting through my speakers that I had to listen to them multiple times.

Disc two of the release titled “TV Eye: 1977 Live” is a collection of liver performances from the year of the album’s release. Not a bad collection however, The audio does vary from song to song given not all the live recordings are from the same concert or appearance. A couple EQ tweaks took care of this fairly quickly making for a decent addition to the set.

If you don’t already own this release I highly recommend the Deluxe Edition as you will surely enjoy the new mastering and the other bonus material included in this package. If you are a long time Iggy fan there may not be enough here to warrant a repurchase however if you are live recording fan then you will need this for your collection you also get the 40 page booklet and alternate packaging which is pretty cool on its own. Both this title and “The Idiot” are available now or if you want to wait until the end of June and get the complete 7 disc “Bowie Years” Collection both new versions of “Lust For Life” and “The Idiot” are a part of that set.

Disc 1: “Lust For Life”

1.) Lust For Life

2.) Sixteen

3.) Some Weird Sin

4.) The Passenger

5.) Tonight

6.) Success

7.) Turn Blue

8.) Neighborhood Threat

9.) Fall In Love With Me

Disc 2: “T.V. Eye: 1977 Live”

1.) T.V. Eye

2.) Funtime

3.) Sixteen

4.) I Got A Right

5.) Lust For Life

6.) Dirt

7.) Nightclubbing

8.) I Wanna Be Your Dog

CD Review: Behemoth “A Forest” EP

“A Forest”

Behemoth

Metal Blade Records

Tracks: 4

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

On May 29th Polish death metal legends Behemoth will release a new EP titled “A Forest” via Metal Blade Records. Dark and demonic, the EP consist of four unique tracks which instantly pull you away from the ongoing chaos of 2020 and is a welcomed taste of new Behemoth music.

The title track “A Forest” is very little like The Cure song you may be accustomed to. The phantom spirit of the original is still there, however Behemoth have managed to lace it with their own brand of black metal infused energy. Along with the help of Shining front-man and recognizable demon caller, Niklas Kvarforth, the songs very much stands on its own and fits right in to the bands catalog. 

The live version of “A Forest” is from the Merry Christless 2018 show in Warsaw, Poland and again features Niklas Kvarforth. Though not a bad inclusion there is nothing really different from the studio recording, besides a small dose of Behemoth’s live energy. The remaining two tracks are unreleased songs from the “I Loved You At Your Darkest” album sessions. “Shadows ov Ea Cast Upon Golgotha” is probably my favorite track on the EP and better than some songs on ILYAYD. Inferno’s drumming is relentless from the beginning and adds fist-pumping adrenaline to the otherwise less extreme release. “Evoe” is more akin to other tracks on ILYAYD and probably would have felt repetitive if included on that album. It works well here, but reminiscent of other more recent Behemoth offerings.

“A Forest” certainly is different, yet classic Behemoth at the same time. Niklas Kvarforth’s vocals on the title track and live version help make this release something truly unique while the other two new songs are worthy additions even if they do echo the band’s last album. Overall a great EP which is very much appreciated during this crazy time in history. It’s reassuring to know we can count on Behemoth to make things a little crazier for us all.

Track Listing:

1.) A Forest (The Cure Cover)

2.) A Forest (The Cure Cover) [Live from Merry Christless Warsaw Poland December 2018]

3.) Shadows ov Ea Cast Upon Golgotha

4.) Evoe

CD Review: Fake Names

“Fake Names”

Fake Names

Epitaph Records

Tracks: 10

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Fake Names’ self-titled debut gives a nod to early UK Punk and Power Pop as well as the seminal groups from which the members emerged. Consisting of Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion), Michael Hampton (S.O.A., Embrace, One Last Wish), Dennis Lyxzén (Refused, INVSN), and Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside) “Fake Names” is being released via Epitaph Records and includes 10 infectious tracks produced by Michael Hampton and Geoff Sanoff.

From the albums new wave tinged opener “All For Sale” to edgier tracks like “Brick” and “Lost Cause” the debut offering from punk super-group Fake Names is a fun and fresh listen that packs a familiar feel courtesy of the bands well known line up. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes the album is a balance of sounds and influences which make up for the short run time. Tracks like “Darkest Days” and “Weight” were personal stand outs as they contained some really cool guitar riffs and sounds that I just kept going back to for multiple listens.       

I always find it interesting when groups like Fake Names come about as often times they showcase different sides of the musician involved. This album definitely gives you those moments while still offering the right amount of familiarity. Each member turns in a solid performance making it seem as though the band has been performing together for a long time. During this unique time in the world the debut offering from Fake Names is just what you need to lift your spirits. From its cohesive song structures and catchy choruses this is an album that will certainly brighten your day.

Track Listing:
1.     All For Sale
2.     Driver
3.     Being Them
4.     Brick
5.     Darkest Days
6.     Heavy Feather
7.     First Everlasting
8.     This Is Nothing
9.     Weight
10.  Lost Cause


CD Review: DIO’s Studio Album Collection: 1996-2004

The Studio Albums 1996-2004

“Angry Machines”, “Magica”, “Killing The Dragon”, “Master Of The Moon”

Dio

BMG

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’re on the hunt for long out of print Ronnie James Dio solo albums, you’re in luck. Ten years after his passing, BMG has reissued the classic final four Dio albums. Each stunning release is fully re-mastered and features previously unreleased recordings and rarities.

Kicking things off is “Angry Machines”, originally released in 1996. The original album’s here in its entirety and damn it sounds great. Included is a bonus CD featuring 12 live recordings from the Angry Machines Tour 1997 featuring classics such as “The Last In Line” and “Rainbow In The Dark”. Next we have “Magica”, originally released in 2000. Not only do you get the long sought after album, but the bonus CD is packed with goodies. Included you’ll get 8 tracks (all from the “Magica” studio album) recorded live on the Magica Tour 2001. As well as the rare studio track “Electra” and the rare 18 minute “Magica Story” spoken-word piece, which is real treat for hardcore fans. “Electra”, originally intended for Dio’s never released “Magica II & III”, plays like a classic Dio track and is a great addition to your collection.

A personal favorite of mine is the “Killing The Dragon” reissue. The album was originally released in 2002 as somewhat of a concept album, Dio’s middle-finger to the digital age. Mascot Murray stands tall, bloody sword in hand, over a slain dragon in the badass Marc Sasso artwork. The bonus CD accompanying the original album includes 6 tracks recorded live on the Killing The Dragon Tour between 2002 and 2003. Not a whole lot new here, considering tracks like “Heaven and Hell” are on every live bonus disc besides the aforementioned “Magica”.

Last but not least is Dio’s epic “Master of the Moon”, originally released in 2004. The album that gave us headbanger’s like “One More For the Road” and “Shivers”. As with each release, the album sounds better than ever. The bonus CD included with “Master of the Moon” features four live tracks recorded on the Master Of The Moon Tour between 2004 and 2005. Also included is the rare studio track “Prisoner of Paradise”, originally included on the Japanese album pressing.

Each release is a must have for hardcore Dio fans, the re-masters are bar none. If you’ve already procured these albums in the past, the bonus live tracks and rarities are a special treat. The CD releases are gorgeous, featuring a solid media-book packaging and vibrant artwork. The colors of each cover pop brighter than ever before. Throughout the lyric pages more great artwork can be found and within the books themselves.

If you are a vinyl fan you are in for a treat as each of these four albums come pressed on heavy weight 180 gram vinyl packed in colorful gate-fold sleeves complete with lenticular covers and full color inserts. Overall a rather stunning release of reissues across all available formats.

“Angry Machines”

Disc One:

  1. Institutional Man
  2. Don’t Tell the Kids
  3. Black
  4. Hunter of the Heart
  5. Stay Out of My Mind
  6. Big Sister
  7. Double Monday
  8. Golden Rules
  9. Dying in America
  10. This Is Your Life

Disc Two:

  1. Jesus, Mary & the Holy Ghost – Straight Through the Heart
  2. Don’t Talk to Strangers
  3. Double Monday
  4. Hunter of the Heart
  5. Holy Diver
  6. Heaven and Hell
  7. Long Live Rock and Roll
  8. Man on the Silver Mountain
  9. Rainbow in the Dark
  10. The Last In Line
  11. The Mob Rules
  12. We Rock

“Magica”

Disc One:

  1. Discovery
  2. Magica Theme
  3. Lord of the Last Day
  4. Fever Dreams
  5. Turn to Stone
  6. Feed My Head
  7. Eriel
  8. Challis
  9. As Long As It’s Not About Love
  10. Losing My Insanity
  11. Otherworld
  12. Magica – Reprise
  13. Lord of the Last Day – Reprise

Disc Two:

  1. Discovery
  2. Magica
  3. Lord of the Last Day
  4. Fever Dreams
  5. Feed My Head
  6. Eriel
  7. Challis
  8. Losing My Insanity
  9. Otherworld
  10. Electra (Studio)
  11. Magica Story (Studio)

“Killing The Dragon”

Disc One:

  1. Killing the Dragon
  2. Along Comes a Spider
  3. Scream
  4. Better in the Dark
  5. Rock & Roll
  6. Push
  7. Guilty
  8. Throw Away Children
  9. Before the Fall
  10. Cold Feet

Disc Two:

  1. Holy Diver
  2. Heaven and Hell
  3. Rock and Roll
  4. Speed at Night
  5. Killing the Dragon
  6. Stand Up and Shout

“Master Of The Moon”

Disc One:

  1. One More for the Road
  2. Master of the Moon
  3. The End of the World
  4. Shivers
  5. The Man Who Would Be King
  6. The Eyes
  7. Living the Lie
  8. I Am
  9. Death By Love
  10. In Dreams

Disc Two:

  1. Heaven and Hell
  2. Rainbow in the Dark
  3. Rock and Roll Children
  4. The Eyes
  5. Prisoner of Paradise

CD Review: Warbringer “Weapons of Tomorrow”

“Weapons of Tomorrow”

Warbringer

Napalm Records

Tracks: 10

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Warbringer returns with their highly anticipated sixth studio album, Weapons of Tomorrow, their second release on Napalm Records. The Californian thrash metallers leave no neck unbroken. This album is a pure adrenaline heavy metal powerhouse. Modern influences and old school thrash clash into an intricately woven, expertly produced metal classic. Have your neck brace handy, this release is relentless.

In a blaze of gunfire the album begins with “Firepower Kills,” a fiery tornado of riffs burning behind John Kevill’s earth scorching vocals. Not to mention a guitar solo surely to melt any face presented to it. Warbringer has never disappointed when it comes to guitars and Weapons of Tomorrow is no exception. All five members are at peak performance and every track from the very start shows this.

Pressing the pause button on your annihilation, “Defiance of Fate” creeps in. A melodic black metal thrash fusion you’ve needed desperately in your miserable life. Blended throughout the album are thrash metal ragers, as well as sweeping jaw-dropping epics. The former, “The Black Hand Reaches Out” is sure to go down in thrash history or at least open up some brutal circle pits. With never a dull moment, Weapons of Tomorrow is a metal genre fusing modern masterpiece.

Over ten years in, this band isn’t here to party, they’re here to destroy everything in their wake. A legit modern thrash metal band that trades in the red cups for ammunition boxes. The New Wave of Thrash, a genre this very band helped create, is over. Warbringer cement themselves as straight to the point, no nonsense, pure fucking thrash metal.

Track Listing:

  1. Firepower Kills
  2. The Black Hand Reaches Out
  3. Crushed Beneath The Tracks
  4. Defiance of Fate
  5. Unraveling
  6. Heart of Darkness
  7. Power Unsurpassed
  8. Outer Reaches
  9. Notre Dame (King Of Fools)
  10. Glorious End

CD Review: TAKE TWO “We Aren’t Big”

“We Aren’t Big”

Take Two

Tracks: 9

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Punk rockers from upstate New York, Take Two have unleashed a brand new album “We Aren’t Big” upon the world. The album (the band’s 4th release) stampedes onto the scene like a mohawk clad rhinoceros whose metallic punk riffs run you over while the catchy choruses bring you back for another beating. From the vintage comic book cover art, to the New Found Glory and Descendents influences, “We Aren’t Big” screams PUNK ROCK! directly in your face.

Featuring nine raging tracks with a little something for everyone, I found “Hearts Will Remain” to be the stand out hit on the album. Its a classic pop punk track with a chorus capable of getting stuck in your head for eons. 90’s and early 2000’s fans of the genre will definitely approve. Going a little deeper thought provoking tracks like “Shots & Scars”, as well as “Red Eye”, are also solid stand outs as both recount tales of the road and the determination of a band never willing to give up. Now if you’re more in the mood for lights out, fist pumping mosh pits, look no further than “Burner” as nonstop head-banging will certainly ensue as the track closes out with a mega mosh riff which beckons a bloodbath of furious spinning back kicks and seismic circle pit activity measurable by the Fujita scale.

Take Two’s influences certainly shine through, making for a familiar listen However, the new territory the group covers brightens up an otherwise usual punk-fare. The metal riffs and intricate drum fills are a welcome flourish not to mention the heavier vocals and powerful choruses. Much of the album will inspire car ride sing along’s, as well as the previously stated mosh pits and neck cramps. Listening I couldn’t help but reminisce of said trips, beers with friends, and the girl at the rock show.

If you’re a fan of old school pop punk sing along’s, but also smashing beer cans on your forehead before jumpin’ in the pit, “We Aren’t Big” is a must for you! Every track brings something different to the table by mixing what you already love about punk with something new and fresh. The sky is the limit for the ambitious Take Two and I’m eager to see what they come up with next.

Track Listing:

1.) Lock Up

2.) Delf

3.) Shots and Scars

4.) Day Dreaming

5.) Red Eye

6.) Fall

7.) Hearts Will Remain

8.) Nothing to Lose

9.) Burner

Head over to Officialtaketwo.com for links to download “We Aren’t Big”

CD Review: Agnostic Front “Get Loud”

“Get Loud”

Agnostic Front

Nuclear Blast Records

Tracks: 14

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Agnostic Front is back with a brand new studio album simply titled “Get Loud”. The album which is being released via Nuclear Blast Records features 14 gut crushing tracks that are nothing short of classic hardcore. Picking up where 2015’s “The American Dream Died” left off “Get Loud” comes in hard and fast leaving a giant sized boot print on your senses.

Written after the release of Ian McFarland’s 2017 Documentary “The God Fathers of Hardcore” which depicts members of the band recounting there nearly 40 year career. “Get Loud” could serve as the perfect soundtrack to that film by solidifying where the band is today in 2019. Tracks like “Spray Painted Walls”, “Dead Silence” and “In My Blood” showcase a more modern metal/hardcore sound while tracks like “Anti Social”, “Attention” and “Pull The Trigger” contain that classic hardcore sound which blasted out of places like CBGB’s and the A7 during the gritty pre-Giuliani era New York City. Easily my favorite track of the album is “I Remember” which details the bond between front-man Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma. The band recently released a really cool video for this song as well that’s packed with lots a vintage footage and photos.  

Clocking in at a swift thirty minutes, “Get Loud” wastes no time getting in and out. From a performance stand point each member of Agnostic Front brings their A game which smacks you upside the head leaving a mark on your senses. “Get Loud” offers something for the old school and new school hardcore fans making for a solid edition to your music collection.

Track Listing:

1.) Spray Painted Walls

2.) Anti Social

3.) Get Loud

4.) Conquer And Divide

5.) I Remember

6.) Dead Silence

7.) AF Stomp

8.) Urban Decay

9.) Snitches Get Stitches

10.) Isolated

11.) In My Blood

12.) Attention

13.) Pull the Trigger

14.) Devastated

CD Review: Gatecreeper “Deserted”

“Deserted”
Gatecreeper
Relapse Records
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

It’s October and what better time of year to unleash a crusty death metal album upon the world? After three long years and numerous splits and EPs later, Arizona death metal band Gatecreeper return with possibly the best death metal album of 2019. Deserted, released October 4th on Relapse Records is a shear force of nature. Upon listening, the album summons desert twisters of sand and sidewinders it’s so heavy.

There should be no worry of a sophomore slump here. These guys take their art seriously and have only honed in on what makes them so great. The musicianship and songwriting has elevated to new heights on this album. Every riff soaked song is seeping with what you love about Gatecreeper, with some new elements thrown in. Songs like “Puncture Wounds” will be a welcomed breath of fresh air for those growing tired of the early-90’s era death metal revival. While tracks “Everlasting” and “Sweltering Madness” may be the best material the best has ever released. Three minutes into the former and any self-respecting metalhead is telling their friends to “shut-up and listen to this part.”

They stick to their guns on this one and stay true to the Gatecreeper formula. Yet they still manage to bring something new out of the coffin and continue to impress. All of the bands influences are on display here, granting some nostalgia to old school death metal fans. Chase Mason’s vocals are as low as ever, while his blood-curdling metal shrieks have really tightened up compared to earlier releases. Guitar riffoholics Jack Maniacky and Eric Wagner have improved their skills and completely plastered this album in thick, heavy riffs. While the rhythm section, bassist Sean Mears and drummer Matt Arrebollo, have impressively made every song on the album engaging and great for head-banging. Let’s not forget about the amazing as always Godcity mixing done by the legendary Kurt Ballou.

This album should be listened to at high volumes and while you’re punching someone in the face. It’s heavy, grimy, and sometimes slightly melodic and creepy. Everything you need in a death metal album. If you’re sleeping on this band you need to get to the nearest record store or on the internet and become the next biggest Gatecreeper fan. Death metal and the metal scene at large needs bands like this to keep putting out quality music and make us all proud to be fans of this often overlooked genre. Check out “Deserted” today and be sure to catch Gatecreeper on tour with Exhumed throughout the end of 2019

Track Listing:
1. Deserted
2. Puncture Wounds
3. From the Ashes
4. Ruthless
5. Everlasting
6. Barbaric Pleasures
7. Sweltering Madness
8. Boiled Over
9. In Chains
10. Absence of Light
11. Anxiety (Bonus Track)

CD Review: Lagwagon “Railer”

“Railer”
Lagwagon
Fat Wreck Chords
Producer: Cameron Webb
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Punk veterans Lagwagon return with a brand new studio album simply titled “Railer”. The 12 track releases which is being released via Fat Wreck Chords as was produced by Cameron Webb is the follow up to the bands 2014 release “Hang” which marked the bands return to the studio after a nine year lapse.

With nearly thirty years of being a band under their belts the members of Lagwagon which consist of vocalist Joey Cape, guitarists Chris Flippin and Chris Rest, bassist Joe Raposo and drummer Dave Raun could have easily sat back and phoned it on their latest release as they certainly have earned it. Instead the band which has been churning out albums since 1992 pulled out a shred-tastic in your face punk album that is equally fresh as it is familiar. Tracks like “Surviving California”, “Dangerous Animals” and “Bubble” showcase some impressive guitar work set against an extremely tight rhythm performance which serves as a near perfect stage for Capes signature vocals. Other notable tracks include the piano tinged “The Suffering” and “Pray For Them” and the bands take on Journey’s “Faithfully” which is the first cover to appear not as bonus material since the band included their version of the Agent Orange song “Everything Turns Gray” on 1998’s “Let’s Talk About Feelings”.

Clocking in at just less than forty minutes I was blown away with how much musicality Lagwagon packed in to this record. Listeners were given just a taste of the bands heavier side with previous releases but “Railer” rips the band-aid off as the band just goes for it. Despite the rather short run time I found myself listening to it from start to finish multiple times as there is just so much to take in and enjoy. Both long time listeners and newer fans will surely want to check out this release as it shows that just because a band has been around awhile it doesn’t have to become complacent and that music can always be taken and explored further no matter how many albums you have released prior or how many years you have been together.

Track Listing:
1.) Stealing Light
2.) Surviving California
3.) Jini
4.) Parable
5.) Dangerous Animals
6.) Bubble
7.) The Suffering
8.) Dark Matter
9.) Fan Fiction
10.) Pray For Them
11.) Auf Wiedersehen
12.) Faithfully

CD Review: Steel Panther “Heavy Metal Rules”

“Heavy Metal Rules”
Steel Panther
Producer: Jay Ruston
Tracks: 10

Our Score : 2 out of 5 stars

Spandex clad Steel Panther are back with a brand new studio album titled “Heavy Metal Rules”. Released on September 27th the album features 10 tracks showcasing the band’s musical growth and is the follow up to the groups 2017 release “Lower The Bar”. The philanthropic foursome comprised of Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxx and Stix Zadinia feels they have created the heavy metal version of a self-help manual and the ultimate party album.

Having followed Steel Panther since their early “Metal Skool” days it’s always been a laughable and fun listening experience when they release a new studio album. However over the last few years I have begun to feel as though the “gimmick” has run its course and “Heavy Metal Rules” is no exception. As I made my way through the albums ten tracks the subject matter came off as flat and extremely tired. Songs like “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)”, “Always Gonna Be a Ho” and “Gods of Pussy” felt like regurgitated versions of songs we have heard on previous records. Don’t get me wrong each of the band members show case their impressive musicianship while producer Jay Ruston does a good job making the album sound sonically good however there just seems to be an overhanging staleness caused by the groups repetitiveness.

If you are a music listeners who needs a copy of “Heavy Metal Party” to complete your growing Steel Panther collection then my guess is you probably have already gone out and grabbed it on CD, Vinyl or Digital Download but, be prepared for the same “sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll” parodies that have been present since 2009’s “Feel The Steel”. If that still does it for you great! Then “Heavy Metal Party” is clearly for you. However if you are like me and were hoping for something new and/or different this time around take a hard pass. Given the idea of progression might be foreign to a band whose theme is to be stuck in a bygone era it still would have been a nice thought.

Track Listing:
1.) Zebraman
2.) All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
3.) Let’s Get High Tonight
4.) Always Gonna Be A Ho
5.) I’m Not Your Bitch
6.) Fuck Everybody
7.) Heavy Metal Rules
8.) Sneaky Little Bitch
9.) Gods of Pussy
10.) I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling

CD Review: Good Riddance “Thoughts and Prayers”

“Thoughts and Prayers”

Good Riddance

Fat Wreck Chords

Producer: Bill Stevenson/Jason Livermore

Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Punk rock band Good Riddance return with their 9th studio release titled “Thoughts and Prayers”. The album is being released via Fat Wreck Chords as is the follow up to the bands 2015 release “Peace in our Time”. Produced by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore “Thoughts and Prayers” features twelve new tracks from the Santa Cruz, CA natives.

Since the reformation of the band in 2012 Good Riddance have forged ahead with the same fast paced ferocity that cemented them as a mainstay during the pop-punk boom of the mid 1990’s. The group’s latest album “Thoughts and Prayers” is a solid example of this as it packs a solid one, two punch of fast paced rhythms and catchy melodies. Tracks like the frenzied “Rapture” and the thought provoking “Our Great Divide” combine the bands signature sound with a fresh batch of hooky choruses that will have you singing along in no time. The track “No King but Caesar” does a great job breaking up the album as it slows the momentum just enough for the listener to catch a breath only to be sucked in seconds later as the track ends up morphing in to one of the fastest, most intense songs of the release and makes way for other upbeat numbers “Who We Are”, “Pox Americana” and “Lo Que Sucede” before coming to rest with the closing rallying cries of “Requisite Catastrophes”. 

When a band breaks up and then gets back together you never know if the same energy and cohesiveness that made the original incarnation of the band work will still remain. “Thoughts and Prayers” shows that Good Riddance have not lost a step but they have also kicked things up a notch with an album that showcases the bands progression as people and musicians. If 2015’s “Peace in our Time” record served as a reminder to who Good Riddance was during their heyday then “Thoughts and Prayers” is the road map for where the band is going next,

Track Listing:

1. Edmund Pettus Bridge
2. Rapture
3. Don’t Have Time
4. Our Great Divide
5. Wish You Well
6. Precariat
7. No King But Ceasar
8. Who We Are
9. No Safe Place
10. Pox Americana
11. Lo Que Sucede
12. Requisite Catastrophes

CD Review: “Invasion” John 5 and the Creatures

“Invasion”

John 5 and the Creatures

Producer:  Barry Pointer

Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Guitarist John 5 and his band The Creatures (bassist Ian Ross, Drummer Logan Miles Nix) are back with a brand new studio album titled “Invasion”. The fourth studio release from the Los Angeles based trio features 10 tracks produced by Barry Pointer which plunge listeners head first into the twisted, musical mind of guitar virtuoso/front-man John 5.

Just when you thought guitarist John 5 had taken his unique mixture of “Hee-Haw” infused shred as far as it could possibly go the former Marilyn Manson/K.D.Lang/Rod Stewart guitarist flips the switch to show listeners that all previous accounts were just the catalyst to “Invasion”. From the eerie opening sound-scape “Invasion” to the robotic “I Am John 5” and the quirky “Zoinks” listener’s senses are put through the wringer before being pushed even further with the twang-tastic, “Howdy” and the pedal steel laden “Cactus Flower” both of which showcase 5’s strong country influences. On the back end of the album are tracks like “I Want It All” and “I Like The Funk” both of which are doused with enough funky textures and tones that they will have the one and only George Clinton scratching his head.

You don’t have to be a guitar player to enjoy the music contained on “Invasion”. From over the top molten distortion to funkified wah worbles and sparkly cleans the latest offering from John 5 and the Creatures is a hodge-podge of musical influences which explode out of your speakers with reckless abandonment. Despite “Invasion” not being the most cohesive collection of songs from the group the album does give listeners a wide pallet to choose from making it worth checking out.

Track Listing:

1.) Invasion

2.) I Am John 5

3.) Midnight Mass

4.) Zoinks!

5.) Howdy

6.) Crank It/Living With Ghosts

7.) Cactus Flower

8.) I Want It All

9.) I Like The Funk

10.) Constant Sorrow

CD Review: Baroness “Gold & Grey”

“Gold & Grey”

Baroness

Abraxan Hymns

Producer: David Fridmann

Tracks: 17

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Heavy Metal band Baroness returns with their fifth studio album titled “Gold & Grey”. The album which was released on June 14th is the follow to the bands popular 2015 release “Purple”. Featuring 17 brand new tracks from the Georgia based group and produced by David Fridmann “Gold & Grey” is the first release via the bands own Abraxan Hymns label. The release is also the first to feature guitarist Gina Gleason who joined the group in 2017 after the departure of Peter Adams.

Right from the start “Gold & Grey” showcases why Baroness is at the fore front of progressive heavy metal. With tracks like “Front Toward Enemy” and “I’m Already Gone” laying the foundation in the albums opening minutes with thick over driven guitars and singer John Baizley’s signature soaring vocals listeners are quickly immersed in a bevy of sonic goodness. As the album progresses so does the diverseness of texture and tones. Tracks like “Tourniquet” and “Blankets of Ash” feature spacey vocals and layered acoustic guitars while the songs “I’d Do Anything” and “Emmett-Radiating Light” feature piano rich sound scapes which seep deep in to your inner core making for a nice mixture of dark and light.   

The latest offering from Baroness takes listeners on a musical vacation that some may never want to come back from. Brimming over with emotional subject matter and robust instrumentation “Gold & Grey” is another notch in Baroness’s musical belt. The addition of guitarist Gina Gleason I feel has really taken the band to the next level. Not only does Gleason’s playing compliment the band nicely but so do her backing vocals which compliment Baizley’s leads. Despite “Gold & Grey” having a few too many slow moments for my liking the songs that weren’t balls to the wall rockers were still enjoyable making this an album I would certainly recommend checking out.

Track Listing:

1.) Front Toward Enemy

2.) I’m Already Gone

3.) Seasons

4.) Sevens

5.) Tourniquet

6.) Anchors Lament

7.) Throw Me an Anchor

8.) I’d Do Anything

9.) Blanket of Ash

10.) Emmett- Radiating Light

11.) Cold-Blooded Angels

12.) Crooked Mile

13.) Broken Halo

14.) Can Oscura

15.) Borderlines

16.) Assault on East falls

17.) Pale Sun