Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kicker "Rendered Obsolete"

    The world is changing rapidly and seems to be getting crazier everyday. Instead of acknowledging the chaotic world around them, people are more interested with what celebrities have to say on Twitter, while also posting endless amounts of selfies. Luckily there is one thing that shall not change, and that is the rebellious nature of hardcore punk music that will always flip the bird at those who follow the system of mindless rodents. Kicker reminds us all that punk is eternal and no matter how old you get, one will never trade-in their punk attitude for some fancy pair of pants and membership to the local yacht club. 

    For their sophomore album appropriately titled, “Rendered Obsolete,” the Bay Area punk veterans in Kicker continue to crank out old school hardcore punk hit with each tune. Just like with their previous release, “Not You,” Kicker is speaking from the perspective of aging punk rockers who try and maintain their angry nonconforming spirit in this modern world. The new release is written to where I think the band connects with a variety of listeners who find themselves not being able to adapt to this evolving technology obsessed society. As someone who really enjoyed the band’s last album, “Not You,” and has seen them live a couple times, I find Kicker’s music to convey plenty of pissed off sounding attitude that allows listeners to forget everything around them and just unleash their inner punk. 

    The new album begins with a classic sounding kick ass punk song called, “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere.” I can relate to the song, especially when I am with my family and friends who must endure my sarcastic sense of humor. Kicker really crafted a solid piece with, “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere,” and it is a strong track to open the album. The next song, “Shit At Kicker,” deals with those who can’t play the table top soccer game and find themselves drinking in shame as their friends keep scoring the goals. Pete “The Roadie” demonstrates great personality when singing the lyrics and maintains his top notch punk vocal delivery. Track three, “Soggy Dad,” is a chord blitz of hardcore fury and the gritty vicious sounding punk guitar sound is achieved by one of the underground’s top players, Matt “Mauz” Parrillo. Also, Dave Ed provides plenty of impressive bass lines and drummer Toby Bitter lays down a furious drum sound. 

    All these guys are veterans and once you get to the middle of the album, you realize that there is not one dual moment. Take the title track for example, it begins with this passionate speech railing against the technology obsessed society while the riff slowly builds up in the background. The lyrics deal with someone who hates their soul sucking job and eventually gets terminated once their employers decide to use machines to handle all the work. A robotic sounding voice actually tells Pete during the song that he has been terminated since they now have new advanced robots to do the work. Luckily there is no software program that can replace Pete’s brilliant punk vocals...(Android Punks Coming to a Store Near You!)

    The song “Brown Bread,” takes a break from the high energy classic punk formula and has these unconventional chord progressions. Also, the bass lines create this unique sounding atmosphere which sounds hypnotic at times. Pete seems to be loosing his mind and humorously babbles about dying and then going to a big bar in the sky. The following song, “Full English,” returns to the fast paced pissed off punk sound that has grown to become unmistakable when listening to Kicker. “You Suck” and “Timeless Cliches,” are a couple enjoyable tracks that feature more angry sounding jams and memorable lyrical moments. The backing vocals stood out more on this album compared to the band’s previous release, which I think added something extra to certain songs like the verse and chorus parts on, “Timeless Cliches.” 

    The final song, “Plastic Button,” was sort of bitter sweet. I enjoyed the old school punk attitude and sound of it, but I felt like there should have been more tracks to follow. Compared to their first album, this release seemed shorter in length. However, even though there are less songs than the previous release, each song on “Rendered Obsolete,” is memorable and you won’t be disappointed if looking for a solid punk release. So turn up the volume, grab yourself some lager and chips, and enjoy this new release by Kicker. Seriously, get a copy now! They have a vinyl format colored the same as Dave Ed’s hair! 

Kicker "Rendered Obsolete": 

Kicker Facebook Page:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Concert Review: Nebulous, Eye for I, Scrape the Earth and More


    Sonoma County is full of extremely talented metal and hardcore bands, with new bands debuting at almost every other show it seems. Such was the case for Saturday night’s show at the Phoenix Theater with a list of solid up and coming talent looking to make their presence known. 

    Besides Scrape the Earth who I have seen before live, the rest of the bill featured acts who I would be seeing for my first time. Correction, I actually saw Ashes Ashes last year, but they went by another name. Another interesting point to bring up about this show is that besides ONI, the rest of the bands who played were from the local area. I do believe this made for a strong local gathering and the turnout definitely reflected that in the end. 

    Starting the show off was locals Ashes Ashes who should not be confused with the David Bowie cover band, “Ashes to Ashes.” I saw this group about a year ago at the Phoenix and they were going by a different name. Anyway, there set was decent for a young up and coming band. They seemed more comfortable onstage this time so maybe the name change helped. Their drummer really pounded the crap out of his kit and the overall drum sounded good during their set. The riffs are not horrible by any means, but I would like to see more dynamics in the riffs and maybe add another guitarist to fill out the sound. The band’s singer did a decent job and will grow into a stronger performer with more live shows. For an opener they did the job you could say and I am sure will improve as they get more live practice under their belt. 

    Next up was Nebulous, who would be playing live for the first time. Well, I do think they picked an optimal night to play live for the first time in front of an audience such as this one. Their sound is definitely more my cup of tea with a very raw old school nineties death metal vibe that at times attempts to break into the progressive death metal world. I could hear influences like Death, Nocturnus and Obituary along with some thrash at times. At first you could tell the band was trying to find their comfort zone onstage with the first song, but once they were locked in the young musicians delivered without fear. The band’s singer had a strong old school style death growl that really impressed me when unleashing the band’s brutal lyrics. I swear you cannot find too many good death metal singers these days who can truly capture that old school nature, so I think that is something going for them. Also, the guitar section of the band had quite a few very traditional sinister style riffs along with moments of top notch guitar shredding. Drumming was also quite solid, especially for this style of music and I feel that in time the drummer has the potential to really convey that technical presence behind the kit. Overall, for a young band playing their first show, you could not ask for anything more. Welcome to community guys and keep cranking out those riffs of cyclopean terror from realms of beyond. 

    After Nebulous finished, the next band started getting ready for their set. Infex is a group of older rock and metal dudes who have that true passion for metal. They actually sent me a CD when I was doing my radio show and I even think I put one of their stickers up on the Ksun door. Speaking of their set, the band delivered a crushing performance that featured some wicked riffs and even started a few pits. Singer and guitarist Jack Childs was really performing with great levels of ferocity and knew how to interact with the ravenous headbangers. My favorite song during their set was without question, “Killing For Jesus.” It has that mean sounding classic thrash vibe that reminds me of bands like Slayer, Exodus, Sacred Reich and EvilDead. Infex did not disappoint and I hope to see them more often live. 

    Fourth up was Nuclear Tempest who from what I gathered was reuniting after taking a break. Well, they seemed to be shaking off the cobwebs and their set was fairly decent. I was not digging the sound at times and the cliché breakdown riffs just sounded dual and uncreative. Plus, when I see people trying to do the karate in the pit type stuff I just cover my head in disappointment. I will say the band could jam out some strong riff sections at times and the guitarist and vocalist who did the clean vocals had an impressive clean vocal delivery. I commend them for getting back together and returning to the stage, but it was just not my type of music. 

    Out of all the bands, ONI, happened to be the only group not from around the Sonoma County. They were from the Cayman Islands and decided to make the long journey out. Also, I hear they are playing Knotfest this year and will be opening for Children of Bodom, Exmortus and Abbath on an upcoming tour. I was intrigued to hear how they would sound, especially if they would be opening up for one of my favorite metal musicians...the mighty Abbath...who I actually saw perform in April of this year. Well, ONI right away had me scratching my head when I saw the band bring out a xylophone. From what I read they played “progressive metal” and having a xylophone was without question something I have yet to come across in the metal world. To be honest, the riffs were not band, but nothing I haven’t heard before. I think the vocals would have been better if they did not keep changing from growl vocals to clean vocals. The clean vocals sounded whinny at times and just did not fit in my opinion. They are a decent band that can definitely appeal to a certain type of metal fan, however, I was not really digging it. 


    Exiting the stage faster than a millionaire moving to the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes, ONI dispersed and Scrape the Earth started their set of metal mayhem. I think this is the fourth time I have seen Scrape the Earth and I always find myself saying that the band keeps raising the bar. Drummer Nick Pater is the member who seriously plays his heart out behind the kit and is one of the areas top drummers. Also, bassist Matt Lasserre and guitarist Forrest Dang play with great passion and have good stage presence. The songs sounded very tight during their set and I can hear improvement as they keep playing. I still want to hear more leads thrown into the mix, but the riffs are without question unleashing brutal punch after brutal punch. 

    The final act of the night would be, Eye for I, who happened to be releasing their demo that night. To my surprise people were not just sticking around for this local act, but you had people showing up right before their set to support them. Damn! I have been to shows where the headliner unfortunately lost part of the crowd due to the bill being too long, or the people left after seeing their friends play. Good thing to know that there are people in the community who display such loyalty and are not like those opinionated black metal elitists. Speaking of music style, Eye for I was quite a pleasant surprise and really the wild card band that night. The entire band was full of highly talented musicians who knew how to play their instruments. Plus, this is what I call true progressive hard rock/metal and not that metalcore rubbish that masquerades itself around claiming to be progressive. The band’s singer/guitarist I must point out has an amazing vocal delivery and could really inject emotion into the music. It was nice to hear a band that had some thought out arrangements and creative songwriting skills. I was impressed and some of the people around me were also giving their nods of approval, so we can all agree Eye for I did a good job closing out the night. 

    I think this show was good for two reasons: 1. Some of the young local talent was able to showcase what they have to offer, 2. There was a decent amount of people who came out in support of their friends. I like seeing shows like this and believe giving the young bands more opportunities to play is needed to keep the scene growing. Also, diversity is important to have on a bill. For example, Nebulous and Eye for I are different in style, but both have promising futures and are young passionate acts looking to spread their music to more potential listeners. Seeing bands like them on a bill is something that I hope to see more of in the future. There you have it folks, another night of metal recapped at the Phoenix Theater...and to think, no black metal elitists will be complaining after I publish this review...You have to appreciate those little things in life I tell you...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thought Vomit "Punks Brutal Retaliation/Sync the Skies"

    In this crazy world of sensational journalism, mass produced musical acts and a society that has become mindless slaves to technology, you really come to appreciate a band like Thought Vomit for the music they write and their uncompromising rebellious nature. The Sonoma County based band’s new album, “Punks Brutal Retaliation/Sync the Skies,” is a great example of a local act pouring every announce of energy into their music and fearlessly charging forward into the global punk and metal arena. 

    I am quite familiar with Thought Vomit, so already we can throw out that there might be some bias when writing this review, but then again, all journalists are somewhat biased and the ones who claim not to be are the biggest liars on this planet. Now, it has been about over a year since the first time I saw Thought Vomit perform live, which was at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA. Since then I have watched them perform live numerous times around Sonoma County. Simply put, Thought Vomit does not disappoint once they hit the stage. I have always felt like their two previous recordings never really captured the passion and raw power that these guys have to offer. In my opinion, this new release is a testament to their DIY work ethic that is constantly propelling them forward.  

    To begin, Thought Vomit self-recorded this release as with their previous album, "Can't Understand Normal Thinking." Already, I can say there are differences between the two albums and the new tracks not only sound solid this go around, but the songwriting as a whole has been raised to a new level. Whether it be the brutality on, “Pelican Witch” and “War,” or the clever social commentary on, “Affluenza America,” or even the hardcore punk aggression on, “This is Your God,” the group writes with an undeniable drive and a bold unforgiving expression of musical attitude. The opening song, “Glass Jaw,” starts the album off with an epic instrumental jam that sets up the next track, “Affluenza America.” Singer Spencer Clark takes listeners right into the chaotic sounding world while unapologetically presenting the lyrics with his vicious hardcore growl. Guitarist Chris Meyer and bassist Jordie Hilley tear away like maniacs on riffs with earsplitting metallic qualities. Drummer Clay Prieto holds down the rhythm behind the kit by pounding the sheer crap out of his drums and adding to the music’s bold attitude. 

    After the first couple tracks, the band unleashes a blizzard of wicked tunes like, “Steel Toe Tap,” “Glad to Lose,” and “This is Your God.” Personally, “Glad to Lose,” is my favorite of the bunch and one of the top tracks on the album. Jordie’s bass playing really stands out during the song and that main riff is simple yet very catchy. Track number five, “This is Your God,” is a song that I have heard live for awhile now and the brief hardcore energy is monumental with regards to the music's unapologetic artistic expression.   

    The last two tracks that I want to mention happen to be songs that sort of took me by surprise, because you can hear Thought Vomit taking their music into new territories. “Flame in the Rain,” is the second to last song on the release and has an overall mellow tone. It is a departure from the more punk metal mayhem and the piece is very well written. Also, the song features Kat Young who provides a soothing sounding vocal delivery that compliments the song’s calm atmosphere. The final song on the album, “Sync the Skies,” is without doubt my favorite piece from the entire release. Thought Vomit digs deep into a very progressive and hypnotic riff style world that I think vividly stands out compared to their other recordings. Just in this one song the band displays tremendous dynamic songwriting skills. I honestly hope to hear more songs written in this same vein on future Thought Vomit releases. 

    After constantly playing live shows with relentless passion, the punk/metal quartet in Thought Vomit has really put together a top notch release with, “Punks Brutal Retaliation/Sync the Skies.” I have come to know these guys over the last year and have truly enjoyed being able to see such growth from a talented group of musicians. Still, the live experience of Thought Vomit is hard to beat, so if you have a chance to go see them live do not hesitate. Yes, you can get the album once it is released in October and have a grand old time banging your head and moshing around your room. However, seeing them live reminds you what this type of music is all about...Raising hell and not giving a damn about what the elitist authoritarian society thinks is proper music.  

Thought Vomit Facebook Page: 

Thought Vomit "Pelican Witch" :