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Live Review: Trash Talk – The Underworld, London

Tonight is the first night of Californian Punks Trash Talks short UK tour and a show at The Underworld in Camden was always going to be a crazy one. Unfortunately I was unable to catch Carnival Kids who opened tonight.

Main support for tonight came from Welsh Rap collective Astroid Boys who might seem like an odd choice for support at a Hardcore show but once they begin playing it’s pretty clear why they were picked. Astroid Boys blend Hip-Hop, Dubstep and Hardcore together and within a few songs the majority of the room is bouncing and moshing. However after their first few songs everything just goes wrong for them. Serious sound issues mean the band have to cut their set short. Tonight Astroid Boys showed potential to be a really good live band but things just don’t go their way this time. (5)

Trash Talk on the other hand suffer no such problems. Instead the band blast through their set of aggressive and fast paced Hardcore Punk, rarely giving the audience a break. Bodies fly around The Underworld off of the venues balcony and the pit just doesn’t stop moving. Vocalist Lee Spielman constantly comes down the the crowd to encourage fans to crowd surf, even offering out weed to crowd members willing to come and get it from him. Earlier sound issues clearly aren’t present for Trash Talk as they sound incredibly tight. The only complaint that could really be made is that for a barrier had been set up in The Underworld tonight which created an unwanted gap between the band and the fans and Trash Talk made it clear they weren’t happy about the situation. This seems to be happening more often and is a shame. Apart from this it’s a great show from Trash Talk who have proven themselves to be one of the most exciting Hardcore bands around. (9)

Problems caused by the sound and addition of a barrier prevent tonight’s gig from reaching its full potential but Trash Talk still put on a great show. Hopefully The Underworld won’t make the barrier a permanent addition as it really does hurt the atmosphere at shows like this. (7)


Live Review: Anti-Flag – Electric Ballroom, London

As well as being part of their 20th Anniversary tour, tonight is also Anti-Flags only UK show of 2013. Tonight’s show was very much going to be a celebration for both the band and their fans. It’s clear why Anti-Flag are still going after 20 years as they are one of the best Punk bands around and tonight showed that Anti-Flag aren’t showing any signs of stopping any time soon.

First up though were British Punks Gnarwolves. There is a real buzz surrounding Gnarwolves right now and it’s clear why, even at this early stage the band have loads of great songs already. The band also sound unique in the Pop-Punk scene right now which really helps. Unfortunately the audience just don’t quite get into the band tonight. They still have a few big fans in but generally the rest of the audience just react politely to their set. Still this didn’t stop Gnarwolves from being a good start to the evening. (7)

Next up were Great Cynics, who were a late addition to the line up after Sharks pulled out. Tonight was one of the biggest shows they’ve ever played and the band were clearly nervous at first but they soon settled in. Having both a male and female vocalists who alternated leading the songs helped to give Great Cynics a more unique sound. They did suffer from similar problems to Gnarwolves though, with most of the crowd only really being interested in seeing Anti-Flag but again they reacted politely to Great Cynics. With tonight being such a special show for Anti-Flag it’s understandable why fans were excited for them and no one else. (7)

Finally Anti-Flag came on and immediately began with “Turncoat” which sent the audience into a frenzy. Following this with “Drink Drank Punk” confirmed that tonight was very much going to be a greatest hits set for Anti-Flag. And when Anti-Flag have so many of them it’s understandable why. Tonight wasn’t all about the music though, as the show is supported by charity organisation Amnesty International. Near through their set Anti-Flag stop and ask the audience to help them by sending a text to sign a petition aiming to free the imprisoned members of Russian Punks Pussy Riot. Normally stopping for this long would be a problem but Anti-Flag have always been about more than just the music and it’s great to see they still support Pussy Riot and haven’t given up on trying to help. Elsewhere the set is rammed full of great songs like “Fuck Police Brutality” and “One Trillion Dollars”, and the fans sing along to all of them. During their encore Anti-Flag  say that because tonight is American Independence Day they won’t be covering The Clash like they usually do, instead they performed brilliant covers of the Ramones “The KKK Took My Baby Away” and the Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. Finally the night ended with “Power To The Peaceful” and the entire band performed from within the crowd. (9)

Tonight really was a special show for Anti-Flag, even after 20 years the band still put everything they have into their shows. The band haven’t lost their political message and they genuinely believe in what they say, they don’t just say it to follow the crowd. Even though tonight is their only UK show this year hopefully it won’t be too long until Anti-Flag are back/ (8)


Album Review: Black Veil Brides – Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones Ultimate Edition

ImageBlack Veil Brides are a band that don’t really need much introduction anymore. Whether you love them or not you’ve most likely heard of them. Earlier this year they released their third studio album Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones and now they are re-releasing it with a few bonus tracks and a bonus film. 

Wretched And Divine is a concept album telling the story of a group of rebels fighting against an an evil organisation know as F.E.A.R. It’s a ridiculous story that adds very little to the album and if it wasn’t for the interludes narrated by Wil Francis of William Control and Aiden fame then the story would be near impossible to follow. Fortunately the songs are a lot better than the concept, with this definitely being Black Veil Brides best work yet. Most of the songs on the album have a really anthemic feel to them, especially closing track “In The End”. The band also show that despite what a lot of people say they are talented musicians, especially guitarists Jake Pitts and Jinxx who provide a number of impressive solos. The addition of orchestral moments also help to give the album a more epic feel. There are some problems though, Andy Biersack’s raspy vocals aren’t amazing and a lot of the songs sound very similar. At times it’s also too cheesy for it’s own good, especially on the albums power ballad “Lost It All”.

The bonus tracks on the re-release are all good and hold their own alongside the rest of the songs on the album with “Revelation” even being on of Black Veil Brides better songs. The problem with this songs is they stick too rigidly to the same structure as most other Black Veil Brides songs so really they are nothing fans have not heard before. The worst part about this package is the bonus film Legion Of The Black. This is amounts to nothing more than an extended music video for the whole album and really adds nothing. Die hard Black Veil Brides fans will most likely love it though.

This “ultimate edition” of Wretched And Divine really doesn’t add much to the original album. If you are a massive fan of Black Veil Brides then it probably is worth picking up mainly for the three new songs and if you aren’t a fan of Black Veil Brides then this really won’t change your mind. (6)


Five best and worst albums of the year so far

So because we’re basically halfway through the year I thought it would be good to do a rundown of my five best and worst albums so far. At the end of the year I’ll do my final ten best and worst and by then this list could be pretty different.

Five worst albums:

5.  The Blackout – Start The Party: While this wasn’t exactly a bad album it is easily the worst thing The Blackout have released and that’s even more disappointing considering it’s their fourth album. Almost every song on the album sounds similar and “You” is without a doubt the worst song The Blackout have ever recorded. Fortunately it’s not all bad as there are still a few good songs there such as “Radio” and “We Live On”. In the end Start The Party was just a seriously disappointing album from a band who are capable of more.

4. Paramore – Paramore: Whilst some might have considered this to be a bold new direction for Paramore, in reality it’s just a Pop-Rock band releasing a Pop album. The album is full of forgettable songs and for the first time on a Paramore album the band almost feel irrelevant. The album does get a bit better with repeated listens but it doesn’t stop it from being boring and that is the biggest problem with Paramore. Also the ukulele interludes on the album are complete filler and serve absolutely no purpose.

3. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll: What do you do when you’re one of the biggest Pop-Rock bands around and have been on hiatus since 2009? Well if you’re Fall Out Boy you bring out an album called Save Rock And Roll and you don’t put a single Rock song on it. Instead the album is just full of songs where Fall Out Boy try to sound like other pop acts. The problem isn’t that Save Rock And Roll is a Pop album though, it’s that it just lacks any originality, “Young Volcanoes” sounds like it could have been released by Bruno Mars. There’s nothing wrong with bands trying out new things but here Fall Out Boy just lost what made them great.

2. Sleeping With Sirens – Feel: This could have easily been at the top (bottom?) of this list, Feel isn’t just one of the worst albums released this year. It’s one of the worst Post-Hardcore albums I’ve ever heard. It really sums up everything that is wrong with Post-Hardcore right now. Feel is just a soulless album from a band who are mainly succeeding because of how vocalist Kellin Quinn looks. What’s even worse is that Sleeping With Sirens showed some promise on their debut album.

1. Falling In Reverse: Fashionably Late: This has easily been the most divisive album of the year. Some have praised it for it’s variety and the fact it’s so ridiculous that it must be fun. Yes the album is varied and it is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard for a long time. But it is awful in just about every way. Having to listen to Ronnie Radke rap about his “white boy swagger” and “rocking Gucci sneaks” is not a nice experience. This album is just self indulgent crap. And when Ronnie isn’t rapping about how amazing he is we get generic Metalcore and Synth-Pop songs filled with awful lyrics. Falling In Reverse are a terrible band and Fashionably Late is an offensively bad album.

Five best albums:

5. Senses Fail – Renacer: A lot of bands come out and say “this is our heaviest record yet”, and a lot of the time it doesn’t turn out to be true. But this was not a case here, Renacer is an album that will shock any Senses Fail fan on their first listen. The band have almost completely reinvented them here, which is fitting considering the albums title means “to be reborn” in Spanish. The album perfectly blends heavier and melodic moments and it is just a brilliant Hardcore Punk album.

4. Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal: When a British Metalcore band reach number 3 in the UK album charts then it’s pretty clear they are a big deal. On Sempiternal, Bring Me The Horizon have continued to push boundaries within the Metalcore scene. Bringing in even more electronic elements this time around thanks to new member Jordan Fish has really helped . And most importantly the album is just full of great songs. “Go To Hell For Heavens Sake” is a huge anthem is a massive chorus whilst “Antivist” is perfect for getting the pits going. Whilst it’s not quite as good as their previous album, it’s great to see Bring Me The Horizon try something a bit different here.

3. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart: There are few musicians in the UK who are as hardworking and passionate as Frank Turner. Tape Deck Heart is his fifth studio album and is easily one of his best. The album is packed full of emotion and is Frank Turners most personal album yet. For some this might have been a problem but the strength of the songs on this album make up for it. The likes of “Recovery” and “The Way I Tend To Be” are some of the best songs Frank Turner has released.

2. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent: A few years ago Killswitch Engage were beginning to fade away, then their original vocalist Jesse Leech rejoined and suddenly people started to take notice of them again. Disarm The Descent  is Killswitch Engages first album with Jesse since he left in 2002 and is one of their best. Opening track “The Hell In Me” gives you a great idea of how the album is going to sound. Crushing riffs, monstrous screams and the biggest choruses of the year. Killswitch Engage are back and they look set to reclaim their place at the top of the Metalcore scene.

1. Bleed From Within – Uprising: Honestly there could not be a more fitting title for this album. Bleed From Within have been hanging around in the British Metal scene for a few years and have always shown signs of potential and they have finally risen to that potential and brought out the best British Metal album in years. When comparisons to Lamb Of God are thrown around it’s clear that Bleed From Within are one of the best new Metal bands around. Uprising is a crushingly heavy album filled with massive songs. Front-man Scott Kennedy proves he is one of the best young vocalists around and the band all sound amazing, the main riff to “It Lives In Me” will definitely get people going crazy live. This really could be the album that takes Bleed From Within up to the next level and makes them one of the biggest Metal bands in Britain.

 


Album Review: Attila – About That Life

ImageJust by looking at the cover of Atlanta Deathcore band Attila’s latest album you could probably get a good idea of what you’re about to hear. About That Life is about as shallow as music gets, Attila care about partying and little else. However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as About That Life is a lot of fun to listen to.

One thing that is clear from the beginning is that Attila have started to incorporate more elements from Hip-Hop this time round. Opening track “Middle Fingers Up” begins with a rap from vocalist Chris “Fronz” Fronzack before things really kick off. From here on it’s familiar territory with plenty of breakdowns, Deathcore growls and Fronz’s ridiculously fast screams. Musically the album has quite a bit in common with Nu Metal as some of riffs sound like they could have easily been on a Korn or Limp Bizkit album. This prevents the album from getting too repetitive as it isn’t just breakdown after breakdown. “Callout” further brings in more of the Hip-Hop elements which helps to give the album a bit more variety and is also Attila’s middle finger to people like Ronnie Radke and Christofer Drew. It’s not all good though, lyrically this album is absolutely terrible and at points boarders on being offensive. For example “Break Shit” features the line “Fuck this shit, punch that bitch” and there are plenty of other lyrics like this. In the end though the album is simply just trying to be a load of ridiculous fun and Attila at least seem aware of this fact. They don’t take themselves too seriously and songs like “Rageaholics” and “Party With The Devil” will definitely get crowds going when played live.

About That Life isn’t really a great album, but it is good fun. It’s 40 minutes of dumb party tunes designed to get pits going and little more and it is definitely Attila’s best album yet so that progress has to be appreciated. If you’re a fan of Deathcore then it probably is worth checking out About That Life, there are worse ways to spend 40 minutes. (6)

 


Album Review: Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late

ImageFalling In Reverse are arguably one of the most controversial bands around right now, this was no more apparent when they released the first single “Alone” off of their latest album Fashionably Late. Whether they were a fan or not most people who listen to Rock and Metal seemed to have an opinion on this song. Now the full album is out and if frontman Ronnie Radke is to be believed, then Fashionably Late is the greatest thing to happen to rock in years and completely redefines the genre, but this is really just ramblings from a man with a huge ego. 

Simply put Fashionably Late will probably be the most ridiculous thing you’ll hear all year. There are synth pop tracks that sound like they could have been by Blood On The Dance Floor with “Bad Girls Club”, Power Metal songs such as “Born To Lead” and even rapping. There really is a lot of variety here, for example opening track “Champion” start’s off as a fairly standard Metalcore track before Ronnie launches into a Rap breakdown halfway through. This variety just makes the album even more ridiculous. The problem is that the majority of the songs on the album are just awful for a number of reasons. The biggest problem being Ronnie’s lyrics, the vast majority of which are just about how great Ronnie Radke is and how he has “white boy swagger”, it’s just self indulgent nonsense. Another problem is despite blending a number of different styles together, they are all done so badly. The vast majority of riffs and breakdowns sound incredibly generic and forgettable, there’s nothing here fan’s of Rap, Rock, Pop or Metal haven’t heard done better elsewhere.

It’s just impossible to take Fashionably Late seriously, this wouldn’t be a problem is Falling In Reverse weren’t convinced they were redefining music here. It’s not really a good sign when an album that’s intended to be serious is better viewed as a comedy album. There are some signs of hope in this album, despite the awful lyrics the choruses are incredibly catchy, particularly “Rolling Stone” and “Born To Lead”. It’s just worrying to think that Ronnie Radke could listen to this and think he is a musical genius. Despite being good for a laugh, Fashionably Late is easily one of the worst albums released this year, hopefully it will be forgotten about by this time next year. (3)


Live Review: A Day To Remember – KOKO, London

It has been almost two years since A Day To Remember last played in the UK and tonight they make their return playing the KOKO in Camden. After such a long time away some were starting to doubt whether people still cared about A Day To Remember. But after tonight’s show sold out in an hour i’ts clear that A Day To Remember are more popular than ever.

First up though was Your Demise, playing one of their final London shows as a band tonight was always going to be a special show for them. Launching into “Push Me Under” pits opened immediately and the entire room was bouncing. Your Demise have always been an incredibly fun band to see live and tonight was no different. Front-man Ed McRae constantly calls for crowd surfers throughout the set and the crowd respond with swarms of fans flying over the barrier and the band play with an incredible amount of energy and passion.  Despite being a late addition to the line up there was still a large amount of Your Demise fans here, which shows that they were a fantastic choice to open. Ending with regular set closer “The Kids We Used To Be” always ends things on a high as Ed joins the fans in the crowd during the songs final chorus. (9)

Despite the great reaction for Your Demise, it was nothing compared to the moment A Day To Remember stepped onstage. Opening with new song “Violence (Enough Is Enough)” resulted in absolute chaos and following this with “2nd Sucks” kept the intensity up with every fan screaming the words and constantly moving. From here on ADTR continued to fire out fan favourite’s and didn’t let up, when they can play a song as good as “I’m Made Of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of?” four songs into a set and still top it later shows how many great songs ADTR have. They are also a band who know how to have fun, with beach balls being thrown into the crowd on “All Signs Point To Lauderdale” and t-shirts thrown during “Better Off This Way”. The energy from the band and the crowd just doesn’t stop, even on softer songs like “Have Faith In Me”, it all results in what is probably one of the sweatiest shows ever at the KOKO. A Day To Remember even play “Another Song About The Weekend” for the first time anywhere in Europe and this gets an incredible reaction. It’s clear that after being away so long, ADTR are happy to be back playing a show in the UK. Front-man Jeremy McKinnon even gets quite emotional at points due to the reaction they receive. A Day To Remember offer another taste of the upcoming album Common Courtesy with “Right Back At It Again” before “The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” brings their main set to a close. Finally everyone is given a break during the first part of A Day To Remember’s encore as they play a short acoustic set, with an acoustic version of  “It’s Complicated” being a nice surprise for fans before “If It Means A Lot To You” results in the biggest singalong of the night. “All I Want” and “The Downfall Of Us All” see one last burst of energy from the band and the crowd with the final pits opening up and fans crowd surfing again before the fans are showered in confetti at the very end. (10)

It is great to have A Day To Remember back after such a long time. It’s clear that when they do play a full UK tour they will play venue’s much bigger than the KOKO and they really deserve to. During the set Jeremy states that A Day To Remember might not be the best band but they care and its clear he really means it. Most fans tonight would disagree with the first part of that statement as A Day To Remember have proved themselves to be on of the best bands in both the Pop-Punk and Metalcore scenes. Mark my words, A Day To Remember are taking over the world. (10)