Category: Album Reviews

EP Review: Grumble Bee – ‘Everything Between’

grumble bee

Grumble Bee are quite literally a one-man-band, comprised solely of singer-songwriter Jack Bennett. Latest release Everything Between was unveiled on June 15th, around 2 years after debut EP Disconnect. Fans who have been waiting all that time for more new material will not be disappointed with this latest offering. Comprised of 8 songs, it is a 50/50 mixture of fully produced songs and acoustic versions of previously released tracks.

Grumble Bee manages to tread the delicate balance between rock music and easy listening, not heading too far in either direction to put off fans of either genre. Each line is full of emotion, the gravelly vocals adding a distinctive quality to the clean melodies, like the crisp sand under your feet keeping you grounded in a rainstorm. The passion in the songs never lets up, but it manifests itself in diverse ways. It ventures into its heaviest territory in Heron, with raw vocals embellishing a persistent beat and spirited melody. Luna Blue takes us to a more chilled place with its mesmeric chorus and steady rhythm – while Red and Bravest Soul occupy a space somewhere in-between. The acoustic songs provide a much more stripped-back atmosphere, something you could almost imagine relaxing to in a coffee shop. The piano version of Heron particularly stands out for its wholly different sound compared to the full version – just in case we needed a reminder of Grumble Bee’s manifold musical talent.

Check out the music video for Red below, and let us know what you think!

Score: 8/10

Listen to: Red

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Top 10 Albums of 2017 by Genre

As we near the end of 2017, here’s our rundown of our favourite albums from 10 genres…

Alternative Rock

Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms

Creeper’s first full album had a lot of expectation placed upon it, riding on the back of the hype built up by their theatrical story of The Stranger and the disappearance of James Scythe. The record is certainly impressive, retaining their ability to make you feel nostalgic about a time, a place and events that have never even happened. The modern rock ‘n’ roll style is best showcased in Suzanne and Hiding With The Boys, while the well-loved ballad Misery is re-released. Only occasionally can it feel like they’re trying a little too hard, such as with the overly ‘inspirational’ I Choose To Live. On the whole, however, it is easy to see why an entire cult has formed around this band.

Pop Rock

Lower Than Atlantis – Safe In Sound

Safe In Sound certainly seems to have been produced with radio play in mind to a much greater extent than their previous releases, meaning that LTA lose some of the raw elements of their earlier sound. This secures them as more of a pop-rock band, but allows an abundance of big, catchy choruses and strong melodies. Each song seems to vary from the last and stand alone in its own right.

 

Melodic Rock

Of Allies – Night Sky

Of Allies’ self-funded debut album builds on the sound defined by their first two EPs – haunting melodic vocals, melancholic opening notes and powerful choruses – to produce impressive tracks such as 17, Collapse and Lost Not Found. However, it also includes new elements, most notably the punk influences on CMD-Q. The theatricality has also been ramped up to give it a more immersive feel. It seems that a full album has given them the freedom to experiment and further distinguish themselves from the pack. 2018 will surely be a big year for them.

Indie Rock

Nothing But Thieves – Broken Machine

The second release from Nothing But Thieves builds on their first, with vocals ranging from soothing melodies to towering cries upon a backdrop which channels the usual indie-rock sounds but gives them a distinctly modern feel. The contemporary theme also runs to the lyrics, which will no doubt appeal to the young generation. The whole thing has been intricately put together as one entity rather than merely a number of individual songs, each element with its own sense of drama.

Mainstream Rock

Asking Alexandria – self titled

The return of Danny Worsnop sees AA take on a rather new sound in their fifth album, beginning a move away from their metalcore beginnings and towards a more arena-filling rock sound. The lyrics throughout have a very personal touch, relating to the singer’s experiences during his time away from – and returning to – the band. The record winds alternately through heavy, anthemic, and ballad-like tracks, and though it can feel a little uncertain in its trajectory at times, this is certainly the beginning of something new and exciting from the band.

Hardcore

Rise Against – Wolves

The melodic-hardcore quartet retain the essence of their sound and their politically charged lyrics, whilst adding in diverse elements where punk roots meet with pop undertones. It is not as heavy as some of their previous releases, and can take a few listens to fully appreciate, but the energy and talent behind it ensure that it stands as an impressive headliner for the genre.

Modern Metal

Never Found – The Human Condition

Never Found’s debut album came crashing into existence in 2017, feeling like they’ve managed to successfully capture all of the hatred and anger at the world that they’ve been trying to express since their first EP. This is channelled into an impressive, well put-together album which includes rock, metal and punk influences, and even a secret ballad at the end of the physical CD. Songs such as Misanthropy – a fan favourite at their live shows – finally get an outing on record, and are all the more impressive for it.

Metalcore

While She Sleeps – You Are We

The album that is finally pushing While She Sleeps into the limelight is a self-funded release that manages to stay true to their original sound. The slashing main vocals and forceful riffs keep their raw edge as the record is not over-produced, but experimental touches such as the rapping on Steal The Sun ensure that it is full of variety. It also features guest vocals from Oli Sykes of BMTH on Silence Speaks.

Melodic Metalcore

Motionless In White – Graveyard Shift

Reflecting on their past but taking their music in a more experimental direction with some new sounds, Graveyard Shift shows that MIW are not willing to sit back and let things come easily. Heavy, breakdown-filled songs such as The Ladder and 570 contrast rock ‘n’ roll/nu-metal influenced Loud (Fuck It) and emotional anthem Eternally Yours. The usual industrial influences are still abundant, but this definitely feels like something fresh.

Mainstream Metal

Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence

The latest release from Trivium manages to meld together some of the best elements from their often hit-and-miss backlog, putting a new spin on them to give it an up-to-date sound. The classic sounding clean vocals become increasingly prominent, and provide a pleasing contrast to the more modern harsh screams. Abundant riffs fill the songs, the majority of which are rather lengthy. A band as well-known as them could have gone down a more commercial route, but it has certainly played in their favour that they did not.

EP Review: Never Found – The Human Condition

human condition

The second instalment from punk-metal quartet Never Found comes more than two years after they released their first EP ‘Sorrow and Cyanide’. The time in between has been spent touring; sharing a stage with bands such as Aiden and FVK has allowed them to hone their talents. New EP ‘The Human Condition’ provides an exploration of the effect humanity’s worst elements can have on a person. The genuine lyrics demonstrate a band who are not afraid to put their soul into their music, and it pays off.

Recent single Come to Me opens the record with an explosion of vocals, the dynamic guitars sending the fires spiralling upwards in time with the forceful beat. Not quite out of control but dangerous. Favourite Mistake feels the full force of the blaze; full of anger but also devastation, like burning and drowning at the same time. From all of this emerges The Monster Remains, a creature formed from the ruins of the destruction. Its vengeful lyrics couple with driving drums to create a heated energy that infects the listener, forcing them to take pleasure in the monster’s revenge on the things that created it.

Anyone but Me’s conflicted lyrics don’t slow the power of the beast. The standout guitars and perfectly timed hang in the chorus ensure that it keeps everyone’s attention. Penultimate song My Grave has a more decisive feel than before, embracing the life it has whether that will ultimately lead to greatness or ruin. A song that will go down very well at live shows, with a menacing breakdown that is impossible to resist. The grand finale Misanthropy is an ultimate defiant stance, quite literally saying ‘fuck you’ to the world. Atmospheric yet heavier than the previous songs, its ferocious vocals will haunt your spirit until you give in and listen to the whole thing over again.

There’s also one final surprise in store, but only for those who buy the physical CD. The secret song at the end of Misanthropy is a stripped back ballad which shows a rare glimpse into the ‘good’ side of the monster, the side that still has some hope for the world. The fact that this song is a lot harder to find than the others seems to emphasise how far deep down this feeling is hidden.

You can find ‘The Human Condition’ at http://neverfound.bigcartel.com/product/the-human-condition-cd, as well as on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Check out the video for Come to Me below.

 
Score: 8.5/10
Listen to: Misanthropy

 

Album Review: Without Andrew – ‘With Great Power Comes Great Irresponsibility’

WA

Without Andrew are a three-piece Manchester punk band who already have five years of experience in the music industry (with various line-up changes) despite their young ages. Their first full album Let’s Boo Boo was released around two years ago and they’ve since played a sold-out home show and supported bands such as Ashestoangels, William Control and The Dead XIII. Never feeling the need to stick to convention, their live shows and lyrics can be relied upon to be entertaining.

New album With Great Power Comes Great Irresponsibility has been a DIY production due to financial issues, but the band say they are immensely proud to have accomplished this. It comes after a tough two years in which the band nearly broke up. Commenting on this, drummer and backing vocalist Mat states:

“Our new album… is what we are referring to as a bit of a ‘comeback’ album, if you will. We’ve had a rough two years in which the band almost split up due to drama and tension within the band, which made this album somehow very special. The problems sparked songs and the songs sparked an urge to put out the best damn thing we could; we have touched on topics we never dreamed we would and have opened ourselves up in ways we didn’t think we would. This album has turned into something we are all super proud of. It takes a slightly different tone in comparison to our first album; it’s darker, heavier and not as whimsical, although, as you can tell by the art, we haven’t lost our fun side!”

The album certainly has the punk feel we’ve been promised; occasionally straying a little too far into Green-Day-mode but with more than enough originality to get away with it. They’ve certainly matured their sound since the last record, without having compromised on personality or the interesting song titles (see Who Hurt Lionel Richie.) Right from the start Wheel and Neverwinter throw catchy hooks at us by the bucketload, the type that get you singing along before you even realise you’ve picked up the lyrics. There’s instantly a strangely classic-yet-modern sound about it, how one would imagine the original punk bands to have sounded if they’d begun to make music today. Braindead adds an interesting pinch of harsher vocal style and more pop-punk guitars, all accompanied by lyrics about “fucked up braindead youth” which one can imagine being enthusiastically screamed back at them at a live show. No Escape also has the feel of something which could easily catch on, its fast pace ensuring a lively response. Dirty Rotten Liar produces a more relaxed tempo, but this doesn’t stop the powerful chorus rousing your emotions. The most forlorn track of the record is unquestionably Time Turner, but rather than being merely the token “sad song” of the record it has a sincerity to the lyrics which isn’t difficult to identify. The vocals prove increasingly versatile as the record goes on, and one notices how good the whole thing sounds for a self-produced album. There’s certainly a lot more to come from Without Andrew.

Score: 8 / 10

Listen to: Braindead

 

EP Review: Seasonal – ‘Bloom’

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‘Bloom’ is the five-track debut EP from Guildford quartet Seasonal. It is intended as an exploration of the trials and tribulations involved in growing up in the UK, based on the personal experiences of the band. Their pop-rock sound should appeal to fans of You Me At Six, Kids In Glass Houses and Five Seconds Of Summer.

The record has a reminiscent tone; opening up a vivid window to past experiences most of us can relate to. Their style isn’t something that instantly smacks of being totally unique, but has the ability to infiltrate the senses and make limbs start bouncing along. Latest single Headphones has a distinct singalong quality, its upbeat tune wrapping you in a warm blanket of nostalgia. The catchy riffs of These Games give it a little more of a rock aura, whilst Certainty opens with much gentler guitars merging into a lively song which retains a laidback beat. Ranger‘s added emotion is especially perceptible through its repeated lyrics assuring listeners “you’re not alone”, emphasised by the strong, building beat. Final track Homeward has a calmer, dejected tune which grows ultimately towards an impassioned chorus and a sense of closure. An appropriate ending.

The record feels like it would have fairly wide appeal, especially to a younger crowd. Check out ‘Headphones’ – the latest single from the EP – below.

Score: 7/10

Listen to: Ranger

Album Review: ANEWRAGE – ‘Life-Related Symptoms’

Life-Related Symptoms

‘Life-Related Symptoms’ is the second studio album from alternative metal quartet ANEWRAGE. The band have been working hard in recent years to make a name for themselves in their native Italy, touring with multiple bands. With this album they say they have tried to avoid sticking to one narrow genre, instead encompassing a variety of influences.

Strong opener Upside Down has a catchy hook which distinctly grabs the listener’s attention and focuses it on the animated beat of the chorus. This tune subsequently remains on repeat like some undying melodic poltergeist in one’s head for some substantial time afterwards. Dancefloor produces a similarly dominating chorus, this time because of the raw, soulful feel of the vocals coupled with the stirring repetition of lines. Vocal ability is also showcased within Floating Man, seamlessly shifting from wistful, gentle verses to powerful, rapturous choruses. The explosion of drum power and guitar riffs emphasises this change. Insight and Wolves and Sirens more clearly display the variation in the band’s influences, both leaning towards hard rock rather than just metal. This is not where ANEWRAGE draw the line, however. The haunting Life Is You precedes grunge-tinted Outside, the latter having distortions and a harmony of melodic voices which form a particularly melancholic effect. There’s even a theatrical twist near the end; Clockwork Therapy with its electronic, dark intro and menacing ticking sound mix with the slow beat for an ominous aura. It produces hints of industrial as well as even orchestral music to create a song which certainly stands out from the rest.

This is an album which shows extensively varied influences, put together in a way which pleases the senses. A few of the remaining songs could do with better hooks to make it a truly great album, but as it stands it is certainly impressive.

Score: 8/10

Listen to: Upside Down and Clockwork Therapy

EP Review: Nineteen Fifty Eight – ‘Dark Blue’

Dark_Blue_EP_Cover

Dark Blue is the new release from Swansea alt-rockers Nineteen Fifty Eight. Inspired by the South Wales music scene as well as the theatricality of young bands such as Lower Than Atlantis and PVRIS, the quintet have a lot to live up to. They explain that the EP’s six tracks reflect the real-life anxieties of early adulthood, but it is ultimately intended as an affirmation that everything will always turn out okay in the end.

The whole record feels like an emotional journey. Ceryn’s almost-serene lead vocals mix with the strong hooks of Dark Blue to create a sort of impassioned sadness. Under My Skin goes further, producing a hypnotic chorus with constant ripples of sound immersing the listener. The tense guitar track behind this, alongside the driving drum beat make for a sense of emotional overwhelmment. This anxiety comes to the fore in the distressed riffs of Optimistic and God Forbid, though a sense of resilience and defiance also fights its way through. Temporary Feelings is in itself a build-up of passion, opening with a timid, soft aura but ending on full, resounding notes; a sort of mental release from fear. The final instalment Watch Me Burn is a satisfying end to the record, mixing the passion and tranquil vocals of the previous songs, but this time without the underlying tension. It certainly feels like the band have put a lot of thought into the production of the EP. The overall effect is of a particularly therapeutic 20-minute listen, especially for any young adult experiencing the same feelings.

Score: 7.5/10

Listen to: Temporary Feelings