Thursday, 28 February 2013

'Temper Temper' - Bullet for my Valentine

'Temper Temper' - Bullet for my Valentine
Album Rating: 3/5 ***
Top Tracks: 'Livin' Life', 'Dead To the World'

[note: apologies for the delay in uploading this, I've had some technical issues in that I couldn't log in to post anything, but this should be sorted now!]

Well, well, well... I'm pretty sure we've all listened to the highly anticipated new album 'Temper Temper' from Welsh metal band Bullet for my Valentine by now, but what do people actually think about it? Is it as good as die-hard fans were expecting? Does it even come close one of their most renowned albums, 'The Poison' [featuring popular songs such as 'Tears Don't Fall', and 'All These Things I Hate']? Is 'Tears Don't Fall, Pt. 2' really an acceptable sequel to the original?! Have patience, and I shall delve into the depths of the album to uncover the answers.

Anyone that follows the band will know they went through a rough patch in which frontman Matt Tuck almost ended everything regarding Bullet after the other members developed dependency problems with alcohol and it began to jeopardise them as a unit. In an interview with Kerrang! magazine, Matt mentions that many of the songs that feature on 'Temper Temper' are directed at the other guys in the band for the way they were behaving. The aggravation is behind them now though, and the band have emerged through the darkness with a new album as a souvenir. 

Sure, the album portrays frustration, and anger, and sadness (like a metal album should), but that doesn't guarantee that it's going to be good. Or does it? I'll stop being all mysterious now and just tell you that it doesn't guarantee everything will be good; there were a few tracks ('Dirty Little Secret', 'Tears Don't Fall, Pt.2') that I was somewhat disappointed with, but I'll go into more detail about that in a little while. First, let me tell you all about the best parts of the album, because they're the parts you're going to be interested in, right? 

Right. You're into metal. You like songs with incredible double-bass, savage vocals, and guitar solos so impressive they'd probably melt your face off if you stood too close. There are songs on this album that possess those qualities. 'Truth Hurts', 'P.O.W', and 'Livin' Life (On the Edge of a Knife)' are probably three of the best songs that Bullet have produced in their entire career. The combination of the growled vocals with the harmonised ones is particularly effective in 'Livin' Life', and the breakdown into whispers in this song quite literally sent shivers down my spine. I highly advise wearing headphones and turning it up quite loud (although I'm not taking responsibility for any bleeding ears), and listening to that song in particular. It's all very impressive.

Despite this, I couldn't help but feel a little disheartened by the album as a whole; as a studio recording it felt clinical. It's definitely a shame, because tracks like 'Truth Hurts' and 'Saints & Sinners' would be must-see songs when played live. The studio recording just doesn't do them justice. You have to imagine being in the middle of a mosh pit when you listen to those songs, and then you can really get a feel for the emotion that Matt Tuck puts into his songs when he writes them.

Upon listening to 'Dead To the World', I began to see the album in a different light. It's a reflective song that I'd be tempted to put on if I happened to have 'one of those days', and it picks up and gets heavier to reveal some fantastic drum fills in the breakdown, going into a guitar solo. Oh God. Dat solo... But in all seriousness, I highly commend Bullet for 'Dead To the World', it's a top track!

Now we come to one of the questions I raised at the very beginning of this review. Is 'Tears Don't Fall, Pt. 2' worthy to be titled as such? Personally, I don't think so. I hate to be so critical of a band that have produced some of my favourite pieces of music, but there's no hiding from great musicians trying to replicate their best work and not quite making the bar. For one thing, I felt it needed more screaming. More screaming, she says! MORE. Of course there needs to be a balance between vocal style, but there was something lacking from the song; I'm willing to say the melodic backing vocals could have made the song slightly better had they been a bit heavier. The whole thing just felt whiny. The song was average, but certainly not worthy of its title.

On a lighter note, I did feel 'Riot' was a track that made me want to turn down reality and turn the music up and obey. The guitar in this piece is incredible, and like the title suggests, it would be the perfect song to play during a riot. I'm imagining it now; the dark streets of London filled with the wasted youth. Dust is rising under the yellow street lights. Sirens wail in the distance, but you're so caught up in the moment you barely notice. That's when this song comes on, and you really lose it... [note: I'm not taking liability for any future riots...]

As a whole, the album was good. It wasn't overwhelming, and I won't have it on solid repeat for the next few days (like I did with Stone Sour's 'Come What(ever) May' recently - review for parts 1 and 2 of 'House of Gold & Bones' coming to a computer screen near you soon... -), but it certainly wasn't a bad album that deserves to be shelved for eternity. I think the most important thing to consider when listening to the album is to imagine the songs played live; for me, the issue with 'Temper Temper' was that it felt very one dimensional, and categorised. It wasn't adventurous, or dynamic. It seemed to be lacking something; perhaps the raw drive that was present in their previous albums. Bullet for my Valentine always pull off incredible live performances, and despite the slight disappointment with the studio recordings, I'm confidant that adding some new songs from 'Temper Temper' to their live set list will give them the vitality they need!

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Friday, 15 February 2013

Interview Exclusive! The Antithesis

The Antithesis @ The Forum!

You may well have heard me mentioning this strange new band, The Antithesis, several times over the past few weeks... But 'who are they?!', I hear you cry! What is The Antithesis?!

The Antithesis are an alternative rock/metal band based in Maidstone composed of some of the best young musicians you could hope to find in Kent; guaranteed emotive lyrics explored in depth through the vocal range of Faisal Anderson, mind-blowing guitar solos from Harry Clarke, a solid bass player with technical expertise in Darragh Lepke-Brown, and the glue to mould them all together, the talented Olly Harper on drums.

As explored in detail on their Facebook page the band started as the merging of Faisal and Olly's band, Crayfish Plague, and Harry and Darragh, originally to the appropriate name Synthesis; however, through the evolution of their music, the band's name has since changed to The Antithesis. 

So, now you know a little bit about the band, I'd like to share with you an interview I had with the guys a little before they went on to headline The Forum on Monday 11th!

To see the sort of music that The Antithesis are all about, pay a visit to their Facebook page, and/or check this out!


The first (and last) time I wore my System of a Down shirt to a gig, resulted in comments such as "your mum's a Stem Of A Dow", and "I thought you were gonna say nice tits!", before the interview had even begun... I could already tell it was going to be a mixture of insightful, and just plain weird feedback, but what more would you expect from the headliners of a venue as revered as The Forum?!

What did the band think about playing The Forum anyway? Lead singer Faisal Anderson thought "it's pretty savage", while bassist Darragh remarked "it's fucking cool. Playing The Forum is big shit." Who was it that said the art of poetic conversation was lost? Despite their seemingly calm exterior, I could tell they were all incredibly excited to be performing. It's clear to see the boys are all incredibly passionate about music, even to the point of putting the band before their school work.

"We don't do any work..." Harry admitted, an opinion backed by drummer Olly who claimed he'd probably fail his exams because of all the time he puts into practising. If it makes you feel any better Olly, I'm probably going to fail too!

All this practice and dedication has to be put towards something tangible; Faisal's lyrics. What is it that teenagers write about in music these days anyway? "I guess it's a mix... Drugs. Talking about drugs. My own personal experiences." But of course! Drugs are such a large part of modern culture, it seems only natural to want to talk about them in songs; The Antithesis also tackle themes directly related to this drug-taking subculture, particularly "battling with the lower self, and the higher self." Faisal's lyrics "can apply to anyone", regardless as to whether you take drugs or not. The ability to write lyrics that everyone can enjoy is a talent which very few are blessed with; The Antithesis certainly use this to their favour.

In relation to natural talent, I asked the band what they thought about chart music, and artists that didn't write their own songs, or couldn't even play any instruments. To put it simply, the mutual agreement was "chart music is shit", an opinion shared by other local band Black Sun (and many others). Darragh had very strong feelings towards chart music today; "it bothers us a lot. We have a serious problem with it. It should be about the music, and not like, commercialism." Faisal added "when it becomes about creating a product, it gets shit.", a view shared by everyone present. After this resounding agreement about the state of today's chart music, the conversation steered more towards the music industry in general.

How did the band feel about stores like HMV closing down? Stores which many people have bought records, and CDs of bands they might not have known about before. "I think bands are gonna become more entrepreneurial", said Faisal. "Pretty much everything we're doing is internet based." With the likes of Facebook band pages, SoundCloud, YouTube and Spotify, it seems the physical stores across the country like HMV will continue to close, but it's not the end of music! As The Antithesis rightly pointed out, bands are evolving to match technology, and there are plenty of other ways to broadcast and showcase new music.

While we're on the topic of adapting and changing, how will The Antithesis' sound change in the future? "We're thinking of doing stuff that's a lot heavier." Excellent! The metal-heads of Maidstone utter a low growly cheer in response, but on the inside they are doing celebratory dances with broad grins. What's that I hear you say, Harry? "We might go into some electro stuff as well..." Double-excellent! There's a lot to look forward to in the future, then!

Now, The Antithesis aren't the only local band in Maidstone that show potential; school mates and rival band Black Sun are also a group of highly talented guys looking to catch a break in the music business. What did The Antithesis have to say about them? The general consensus was "they're amazing. Really good.", however Harry had other opinions... "We're sort of angry at them. I hate them with a passion." He spoke only in jest, of course, and this was made evident when I asked them if they had anyone they wanted me to acknowledge. "Definitely Dave Martin. The big Dave. He's done so much for us. And Black Sun. We've got so many gigs opening for them." The two bands have a symbiotic relationship in which everyone befits, something that's particularly evident in the way they interact and support each other, despite (technically) being in a permanent competition.

I'd like to thank The Antithesis for giving up their time to talk to me, and I don't seem able to express enough through words the quality of the performances that this band gives. A definite must-see band, and certainly one to monitor as they continue to achieve highly.

All the best guys!

You can find The Antithesis on Facebook here!

If you enjoyed this interview, you can follow me on Facebook here for upcoming interviews and reviews!

In the near future you can expect to find a review of Bullet for my Valentine's 'Temper Temper', an overall commentary on The Forum (Monday 11th February), and a review of the Battle of the Bands at The Rafters in Maidstone on Wednesday 13th February.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Interview Exclusive! Black Sun

Black Sun @ The Forum!

I maintain that you can listen to countless CDs and studio recordings of bands, but nothing really compares with the sound of live music does it? Yes, it may have been a school night, and yes it may have been all the way in Tunbridge Wells, but I guarantee if you're getting a performance from Black Sun, it's more than worth it!

Never before have I seen a band play live and demonstrate the enthusiasm and stage presence as I saw at The Forum on Monday (11th Feb '13). They played an energetic set which had the crowd up and moving, and displayed all the qualities that a young band should; vitality, emotive interaction, and some killer sounds!

I was fortunate enough to be able to get an interview with the four guys of Black Sun, and you're fortunate enough to be able to read it here! 


Black Sun had barely left the stage after their set, and dried the sweat from their brows before I'd dragged them outside into the cold February night for our interview. Full of post-gig adrenaline, the guys were interactive and enthusiastic about my questions, and offered some insightful comments into the state of the music industry today. Before I get into all that though, who are Black Sun?

To cover the basics, they're a four piece rock band based in Maidstone, composed of guitarists and vocalists Jamie Chellar and Alex Chadwick, bassist Sam Ratcliff, and drummer Luke Phillips. The band cite their influences as the likes of Muse, The Beatles, Biffy Clyro and Nirvana, and an element of these great musicians is reflected in their own music. If you're interested in finding out more about them (and you should be, by the way!), you can access their Facebook page here.

Why Black Sun anyway? Were they ever called anything else? I can tell you that they were previously called "many things", and I was met with laughter. It seems the fine art of band naming is a process that needs constant attention, particularly when the reason for sticking with Black Sun was, and I quote, "hm, what's dark and, what's like, cool? The sun." Despite this seemingly unconventional method of naming themselves, Jamie defended their name by suggesting it may also have been in Star Wars, which is undeniably a legitimate way to name your rock band...

Moving on, I asked the guys how they felt to perform on the same stage which many of their influences once played, including Biffy Clyro, Coldplay, Muse and Green Day. "All of a sudden, we're playing all these massive venues", said guitarist Jamie, with an element of surprise in his tone. They seemed genuinely overwhelmed to be progressing at such an impressive rate, and climbing towards their goals in a realistic way. Keep your head up guys, you're doing great!

Now, the question is (although you can most probably guess the answer), what did Black Sun have to say about chart music? "It's awful!" was the unanimous opinion. Hurrah! The band might be serious about their music, but they aren't without a sense of humour. Drummer Luke felt the need to express his love for Nicki Minaj, stating "she's alright though", and then laughing about it. If you're wondering, they do "a nice cover of Beez In The Trap!".

Back to being serious, I asked Black Sun where they saw themselves in ten years time. I wasn't met with any specific answers, but they did suggest they'd "love to come back to The Forum within the decade", to headline their own show perhaps, and showcase their talent to a large and supportive audience singing along to all their lyrics.

I'd like to thank Black Sun for being such genuinely polite, talented and hard working guys that are going to great lengths to keep the local rock scene ticking over. A small band destined for the big-time. Definitely ones to keep an eye on!

You can follow Black Sun on Facebook HERE

If you're interested in what I've got coming up (a review of Bullet for my Valentine's latest album 'Temper Temper', and interview with The Forum headliners The Antithesis, AND a review of the Battle of the Bands at The Rafters, Maidstone), then please follow me on Facebook HERE

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Forum

Tonight is the night! We can expect fantastic live performances from The Antithesis, Black Sun, Bring The Ruckus, and Killing Vegas at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.

These local, upcoming bands will be playing the same stage that many famous acts have played, including Biffy Clyro, Muse, Coldplay and Green Day!

Tickets are now only available at the door.

Coming up in the next few days you can expect to see interviews with The Antithesis and Black Sun, and also a review of Bullet for my Valentine's new album 'Temper Temper', so keep yourself posted!

You can find me on Facebook HERE! Please like to show some support! :)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

'Release The Panic' - Red

'Release The Panic' - Red
Album Rating: 3/5 ***
Top Tracks: 'Die For You'
+ 'The Moment We Come Alive'

Since Red's best received album 'Innocence & Instinct' was released in 2009, it's been hard for the band to replicate the genius seen in popular songs like 'Ordinary World' and 'Fight Inside'. 'Until We Have Faces' (2011) was arguably Red's most polished album, yet it still fell short of its predecessor in terms of popularity. Here we see 2013, and the newest album from Red, 'Release The Panic'. Can we see Red reach new musical limits, or will they continue to be overlooked in the shadow of their best work?

If we start at the beginning, the opening track 'Release The Panic' introduces the album with an extended drum roll, and the suspense builds as the other instruments are added; the sound resembles something of a fusion between Disturbed and Korn. The vocal style remains distinctively to be that of Michael Barnes, yet at times can feel a little over-processed. Even so, it seems the juxtaposition of the screamed vocals with the harmonies in the background results in a song you can still enjoy rocking out to!

It is key to note that underlining the technical drum beats such as those in 'Die For You' and 'Perfect Life' is the issue of the over-produced, synthetic sound which first reared its ugly head properly in 'Until We Have Faces'. In some instances these sounds work well together to produce songs like 'Die For You', in which the combination of techno sounds, and a funky drum beat allows fluidity between the chorus and the verses; in other instances they don't work so effectively! 'Hold Me Now' feels somewhat cliché and lacks the ability to evoke raw emotion as convincingly as other tracks from their repertoire, which is a disappointing discovery considering the potential of these new tracks.

The album is generally well-written; there's a fantastic guitar solo in 'Die For You', and the heavier track 'Damage' combines distorted vocals and screaming alongside softer melodies. This produces a sound dissimilar to what you'd typically associate with Red, but it definitely works well within the genre so I can't fault it! 

Despite this, I have to note that the tracks seem one-dimensional in places, often lacking the emotive and mature side of writing present in Red's previous works. Many of the tracks felt over-produced as I've mentioned, and the use of looping parts of the same song to save recording time were painfully noticeable. Some tracks like 'Same Disease' featured a promising, catchy guitar riff, but were let down by the vocal contributions sounding almost whiny in comparison.

'Glass House' starts like the beginning of a cheesy dance/workout soundtrack, but string instruments with powerful drums which tone down throughout the verses are introduced to retain the band's nu-metal image and save the song. The effect of the gentle verses with the heavier chorus allows you to both headbang, and connect emotionally with what you hear. This song makes for a nice transition into the closing track, 'The Moment We Come Alive'.

This last song is lyrically the best on the album, tackling the concept of 'living in a desperate time' where 'the truth [is] hidden before our eyes'; a Matrix-like concept that's often the focal point of music that encourages us to think. It's an optimistic track which tells us to 'reach to the sky', and 'come alive', making links here to the Christian principles the band advocates through the religious imagery of reaching out to God and finding the truth.

Artists change their sounds as time progresses so their work doesn't become stale and irrelevant. I would argue that it's not possible to replicate greatest albums over and over, however it is important that musicians constantly strive to outperform themselves. When it comes down to it, Red haven't managed to exceed their greatest album to date, but their current work shouldn't be measured by comparing it to their older work. The variety of tones and the range of styles that have been used come together in new ways to create an album worthy of recognition.

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I apologise that Coheed and Cambria's album review hasn't also been uploaded today, but you can expect that up in the next few days!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Local Band: The Antithesis

'Overtime' - The Antithesis

What's new and about to blow up in Maidstone? Local band The Antithesis tease their fans with catchy guitar riffs and memorable lyrics! With a full EP coming out in the next few weeks, why not listen to this to keep you occupied while you wait?

You can download this track right now, for free! HERE

'Dark Side Of Me' - Coheed and Cambria

Teaser! 'Dark Side Of Me' is the only single to have been released for Coheed and Cambria's upcoming album 'The Afterman: Descension'. My review of the album will be ready for reading shortly after its release date, the 5th February.

What's coming up?

5th February:
'Release the Panic' - Red
'The Afterman: Descension' - Coheed and Cambria

12th February:
'Temper Temper' - Bullet for my Valentine

Expect reviews up for these highly anticipated albums on their release dates!