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The Road To Here

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This is a review of the debut EP from the band, Revolve. I don’t have very much information for you about the band at this time other than this EP, The Road to Here, was produced by Clint Lowery of Sevendust and will be available digitally on April 21, 2015 and physically on May 1, 2015. They also have a website, www.revolveofficial.com that only includes a pretty cool preview of the songs from the EP.

The first song on the EP, “Believe,” might just have you doing that as it will no doubt get your blood pumping right from the start. The music in this song is tight – especially the drums – and the guitar solo is refreshingly just that…a guitar solo like they used to do them back in the day. The other songs stay true to the new metal style without going crazy with post-production fillers that so many bands fall victim to these days.

The standout song for me, “Buried Alive,” starts out with a trippy intro that leads right into a musically powerful song that works very well with the lead singer’s vocals.

What I now know after listening to The Road to Here from Revolve is that this band has a lot of talent and potential and have put out a solid debut effort. It will certainly be interesting to see how Revolve evolves over time.

JPL

Valley of Bones

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Dear bands I’ve been critical of recently,

Do yourself a favor and listen to Full Devil Jacket’s, Valley of Bones, if you were not clear on my criticisms of your work and the direction I believe you’d be better off taking. Valley of Bones is exactly how new metal or alternative metal – or whatever you want to call it – should sound. It rocks. Plain and simple. It is guitars, drums, vocals, and the right amount of production that serves to highlight the music rather than suffocate it. The reunited boys from Tennessee have put together a long-awaited album (15 years since their first full length one) of excellent hard rock songs that all bands, new and old, should use as a blueprint for success.

Instead of using technology to manufacture creativity, the band mostly uses the traditional tools of hard rock along with their immense talent on songs like “We Got the Love”- a fast-paced and upbeat rock song with just the right amount of the deep, blood-curling vocals from lead singer, Josh Brown. And if you like that style of metal, as do I, then you can’t do much better than Brown on tracks like “Blood of the Innocent” and the ripping title track, “Valley of Bones.”

Other standouts for me include, “What if I say” – a solid rock ballad-esque song that never loses its integrity to producers with happy fingers and dollar signs in their eyes. “The Monument” is a great song that reminds me a lot of the best of Alice in Chains but with a fresher, up-to-date sound that is all their own. “Picturebox Voodoo” – a really cool White Zombie-like song (still all FDJ) is a great example of using technology to one’s advantage as it accentuates the song instead of overpowering it.

The highlight of the album, for me, is a kind of quiet and traditional rock song called “Paper Crown.” From the drums to the classic guitar solos to the crisp vocals, this is the song that you can crank up in your car in heavy traffic and not worry a thing about who’s watching you.

If I had a knock at all, it would be that Valley of Bones ends with an excellent, heartfelt ballad (mostly piano, strings, vocals) instead of something powerful like “Killers” to put an exclamation point on what is a killer album.

 

JPL

Awaken the Fire

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Crikey. What to say about this New Zealand band’s sort of 3rd studio album, Awaken the Fire? It’s OK. Sounds a lot like, well, sounds a lot like a previous album of theirs, Chaos Theory, Part I, because all but four songs on this new one come from Chaos Theory.

But Like a Storm also sounds like a lot of other bands on the market right now in how they creatively mosh just about every style of so-called metal together to make their songs. But just like with similar bands, this style of music all too often creates identity issues that are hard to overcome. What you have is a musically talented band that just can’t seem to figure out who they want to be. Should we be Thrash metal? Heavy metal? New metal? Rock-n-roll? Top 40? So instead of picking one – of which they would probably be great – they throw it all in a blender and there you have it. Perhaps we could add a new style to the genre called, “Formula” metal?

For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Most songs on Awaken the Fire are musically tight and will provide you with quite a few new metal head-banging-ish opportunities. I couldn’t really pick one over another to highlight because they all sound kind of the same to me. Again, not bad, just not great. Personally though, I prefer songs like “Southern Skies,” which showcases a stripped down version of the band without all of the metal hoopla. What we get in return is a good, honest rock-n-roll song. Same goes for “Ordinary.” It may be a little bit Nickelback-esque but it proves that Like a Storm has the potential to not be so ordinary after all.

 

JPL

Blood Stained Revolution

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With Scotty Austin taking over lead vocals from founding member Jared Weeks, I’m sure a lot of fans were a little leery of what to expect from Saving Abel on their latest album, Blood Stained Revolution. In situations like this, you will always have some fans who are happy with the new direction and some fans who are sad.  As such, I found the album to be somewhat bipolar – but not in a depressing way.

There is a bipolar spectrum that runs from depression to normal to mania. Sounds pretty rock-n-roll to me, right? Most of the songs on Blood Stained Revolution are definitely hovering way beyond normal and much closer to mania. The first three songs on the album, including “Ready to Burn,” all kick ass musically but vocally and stylistically seem a little bit forced – as if Austin felt compelled right off the bat to differentiate himself from Weeks and maybe tried a little too hard. In those first three songs (“15 Minutes of Fame” and “Love like Suicide” included), it is obvious that Austin has a really unique voice but it’s not until the 4th song and title track, “Blood Stained Revolution” that we find out he has a great voice, too.

In songs like the title track as well as “With You” and “Memphis,” Austin’s voice is a little more controlled and stripped down and honest and suits the music so much better. And the songs are still kick ass. If this represents the new Saving Abel then all fans old and new should be thrilled.

If you are still not convinced, then listen to the last song, “Side Road,” which leans more towards the other end of the bipolar spectrum but also showcases Austin’s range and a musically tight and mature band.

JPL

First Kiss

 

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“My name is Kid…. Country!” Wait? What?

From Jesus and Bocephus to beer and bibles to whiskey and cheap wine to Johnny Cash and white trash, Kid Country…er…Kid Rock drops just about anything and everything he can into his lyrics to attract the good ol boy dollar bill.

It’s clear from the start that each song on First Kiss was carefully crafted to ignite that stereotypical rebel flag cigarette lighter held high by fellas named Junior with long mullets and big beer bellies and their proud chicks in denim crops and muffin tops. Every song wants so badly to be a redneck anthem – from the heart-warming memory of drinking your first beer with your old man to the bittersweet “FOAD” message born of the heartbreak of a failed relationship. Problem is, every song falls as flat as a 3-day old keg of beer.

And here’s the part I always dread to write…That being said, I’m sure there are some folks who might actually like First Kiss. Lynyrd Skynyrd be danged, they are likely the same folks who yell out “Free Bird” at every concert they go to and think it the funniest most original thing ever. But, hey, just because she’s your cousin doesn’t mean she ain’t cute, right?

Kid Rock? Hardly. I’ve heard some people call it “hard country” but the only thing hard about this album is trying to listen. Country Crock is more like it.

JPL