Friday, April 14, 2017

Death of Kings "Kneel Before None"

    In a world that needs more brutal sounding metal bands and less whiny indie rock bands, Death of Kings new album, Kneel Before None, arrives with a vengeance of pure unforgiving thrash. The Atlanta, GA based band’s new release is a culmination of their hard work and determination to create merciless sounding thrash metal music.

    I reviewed the band’s 7” single, Hell Comes to Life, just a few months ago and was extremely impressed by the new song from that single along with their killer cover of Judas Priest’s, “Hell Patrol.” That single gave people a great preview of what was to come with the release of, Kneel Before None. I think Death of Kings right now is firing on all cylinders, because the music on the new album does not disappoint and there is a consistency to their songs that I don’t hear often from most current metal bands.

    Another area where Death of Kings shines on the new album is the overall production and recording quality. The production is solid throughout the album, so there are none of those moments where you begin to question if someone fell asleep while working in the studio. From the recording of the drums and guitars to the vocals, the band sounds like they are determined to unleash that raw extreme sound on each track. I also found that the guitar solos really complimented the compositions on this album. Sometimes you get those bands who throw in awkward solos to where they are just trying to show listeners how fast they can play instead of making the music sound tight.

    There are nine tracks on the new album, so I consider there to be nine opportunities to bang your head and mosh around your bedroom. The first song, “Shadow of the Reaper,” is a vicious assault of chaotic sounding riffs and furious drumming. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Matt Matson, provides some hellish screams to compliment the song’s blasphemous sound. Fellow guitarist Matt Kilpatrick uses his instrument to decimate your speakers with plenty of skull crushing riffs. Drummer Amos Rifkin and bassist Scott Price establish a solid rhythm section and are sort of the unsung heroes in my opinion. For some reason those guitars players get all the attention, but you definitely need a strong rhythm section to provide a solid backbone for those crushing riffs and blistering lead parts.

    Once the main riffs in the second song, “Sojourn,” kicks in with its malicious sounding tone, you wonder if you will be able to survive the massive metal onslaught. Track number three, “Regicidal,” is probably my favorite song on the album and contains elements of more than just thrash metal. There are some death growls used to contrast with Matt’s style of vocals. The music takes you on this extreme rollercoaster that you wish would never end. The next song, “Descent Into Madness,” feverishly grinds out relentless sounding riff after relentless sounding riff. Tracks five and six, “Hell Comes to Life” and “Knifehammer,” are previously released singles added to the album. I consider, “Hell Comes to Life,” to be another one of my favorites as that song sounds as though Hell has risen up from below to reign upon Earth for all eternity. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    The final three songs, “Plague (Upon the World),” “Too Fast For Blood” and “Revel in Blasphemy,” maintains that ferocious sounding attack you heard on the previous six tracks. “Too Fast For Blood,” is a nasty piece of old school sounding thrash with this slight Exodus vibe. I thought, “Revel in Blasphemy,” was a strong choice to finish the album since I really liked the ending riff section. You feel as though the entire world around you is crumbling away as the guitar players unapologetically strike their instruments.

    If you were to ask me: what is one of the best sounding metal albums to come out in 2017 with an emphasis on consistency from start to finish? I would not hesitate to consider, Kneel Before None, as my first choice. Although they are not pushing the boundaries of metal music by incorporating latin jazz music with endless random scale runs, I appreciate Death of Kings for taking their enthusiasm for heavy metal and creating some extremely solid metal music. When will some bands realize that it is better to sound consistent than to write a tornado of musical diarrhea?! At least we know that at the end of the day, we can be assured that the hard work and brutal sounding thrash metal music from Death of Kings will always be there to appease our ravenous metal souls.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Game Over "Blessed Are the Heretics"

    Game Over is a band that simply does not record an album and then disappears for a few years before returning to the studio. Last year the band released their third full-length album, Crimes Against Reality, and now they are back this year with a brand new EP called, Blessed Are the Heretics.

    These Italian thrashers have been on my radar since I reviewed their second album, Burst Into the Quiet. That release is well worth checking out and conveys such a raw old school thrash sound. Also, I have definitely heard an improvement in their sound since I reviewed that second album. When I reviewed Crimes Against Reality last year, I was impressed by the band’s hard work and dedication to take their sound into a more technical and dynamic direction.

    This new EP features a brand new song, a re-recorded version in Italian of the song “No More” from the band’s second album, a cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and three live recordings. Game Over’s new song, “Blessed Are the Heretics,” reassures people that the band knows how to conjure up a fierce piece of thrash metal music with an unapologetic attitude. I thought the song’s production stood out the most for me. The track is not another generic thrash tune with basic boring palm muted riffs. There are some unique compositions to demonstrate a more progressive style of thrash which I notice Game Over is starting to focus more on.

    The second song on the EP is a re-recorded version of the song, “No More,” which is now titled, “Mai PiĆ¹.” I liked the idea to record the song in Italian and felt the band did a great job presenting the lyrics in their mother tongue. For their cover of Dead or Alive’s, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), I was quite interested in hearing how the band would tackle this 80’s pop song. To my surprise the band cleverly converted the 80's one-hit wonder into a nuclear assault of thrash fury. The band’s vocalist provides some solid vocals to compliment the song’s fast paced tempo. I can actually picture some metal maniacs thrashing around in front of the stage during this cover.

    Listeners who enjoy live recordings will want to check out the final three tracks on the EP. The final three songs, “Mountains of Madness,” “Fix Your Brain” and “C.H.U.C.K.” are killer live versions of songs from the band’s previous releases. I personally enjoyed, “C.H.U.C.K.” the most out of the three live recordings since that is one of my favorite Game Over songs. The band summons that sinister riff driven old school thrash sound and I really like the bass parts during the song. That bass sound is something I would expect to hear from bands like Anthrax, Nuclear Assault or Overkill.

    Once again, Game Over is keeping the relentless thrash attack moving forward by putting out yet another solid release with, Blessed Are the Heretics. For the last three years I have reviewed three Game Over releases and I look forward to more music from these dedicated enthusiastic thrashers. If you are a fanatical fan of thrash metal I recommend checking out this new EP and the previous Game Over releases. I find that the metal world needs to put less emphasis on Metallica possibly collaborating with Lady Gaga and pay more attention to bands like Game Over. The up and coming acts such as Game Over are helping to keep the thrash metal legacy alive and I hope they continue to carry on the flag for many more years.

Game Over "C.H.U.C.K." :

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Classic Albums Review: Rush "Presto / Roll the Bones"

    2017 is sure shaping up to be a good year for rock and metal music. I have reviewed a fair amount of impressive releases with plenty more to come. Even with all these new albums coming out, I always find myself listening to Rush.

    As of recent I have been listening to Presto and Roll the Bones. In my opinion, these two albums are extremely important in the band’s history and begin the transition from their heavily electronic synthesizer sound to the more traditional power trio formula focusing primarily on drums, bass and guitar. Although the band still uses synthesizers on these two albums, you start to notice them moving away from the sound on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Also, I felt Neil’s lyrics started to take on a slightly different tone compared to their previous albums. The words from the songs can really relate to what people go through when dealing with a difficult and demanding society. Neil has always had that ability to write such meaningful lyrics, however, I notice the songs from Presto and Roll the Bones are extremely relatable.

    We start with, Presto, the band’s thirteenth studio album which was released in 1989. The band recorded the album at the legendary recording studio, Le Studio, in Morin-Heights, Quebec. Rush definitely moved away from the previous releases with regard to the heavy emphasis on synthesizers, but if you listen carefully there are still a decent amount of synth arrangements. Overall the music on this album is dynamic yet does not lose listeners with constant complexity. The foundations for most of the songs are very well thought out and the attention given to the verse and chorus sections instantly catches your attention. I believe the words leave an everlasting impact, while the musicianship reminds you how much talent Geddy, Alex and Neil have to offer.

    The album’s opening song, “Show Don’t Tell,” contains some of my favorite lyrics and also demonstrates the band’s instrumental genius. Some lines that stand out are, “How many times do you hear it, It goes on all day long, Everyone knows everything, And no one's ever wrong…Until later.” I find that statement is very telling about certain people and provides great advice for those who live in their own little isolated bubbles. The second track, “Chain Lightening,” is another work of musical brilliance with probably one of my favorite chorus sections. I always feel a positive vibe when listening to the song, especially when Alex breaks into the radiant sounding solo.

   Out of all the songs on the album, “The Pass,” is probably my favorite. The song talks about dealing with the serious topic of depression and feeling isolated. Neil writes the lyrics as a way to motivate people out of the darkness by not losing hope when feeling down. Geddy also provides some memorable bass lines to accompany his confident vocal delivery. The next song, “War Paint,” contains a very catchy chorus that easily gets stuck in your head. Also, Neil’s playing really drives the song by providing such a bold rhythmic supporting force to the verses.

    I will mention a few more tracks that I think standout the most on Presto, because if I go through each track off the album, this might turn into more of an essay than an article. The title track off the album features Alex’s brilliant dynamic guitar playing skills and I believe the phrasing of each note during his solo is flawless. “Anagram (For Mongo),” offers listeners a very soothing keyboard section to compliment Geddy’s vocals, while “Hand Over Fist” unleashes a very strong sounding main riff from Alex with Geddy and Neil providing solid support.

    Moving on now to Rush’s fourteenth release, Roll the Bones, we find ourselves with the band using the same recording studio and even using the same producer, Rupert Hine. Released in 1991, the album is known most for the title track which features a rap section during the song. Overall, I consider the album to be a continuation from Presto with a few slight differences. On this album the band wrote an impressive yet very modest instrumental song called, “Where’s My Thing (Part IV, “Gangster of Boats” Trilogy).” Unlike, “La Villa Strangiato,” the instrumental on Roll the Bones does not contain as many complex time signatures and the length of the song is shorter. Still, the musicianship is mesmerizing and the overall piece sounds exciting from beginning to end.

    Similar to Presto, I notice that the first three songs on Roll the Bones instantly establishes the album by coming up with extremely memorable tracks that demonstrate powerful lyrics and great musicianship. “Dreamline,” “Bravado” and “Roll the Bones,” were probably the best choices when figuring out which three songs should start off the album. I personally enjoy, “Bravado,” the most and I am always blown away by the song’s deep lyrical content. The lines, “We will pay the price, But we will not count the cost,” sort of makes you stop and think about the world around you. In my opinion, there are few bands that can come up with something as meaningful and thought provoking as Rush.

    Other tracks I wish to highlight off the album would be, “The Big Wheel,” “Heresy,” and “Ghost of a Chance.” The main riff in, “The Big Wheel,” packs such an aggressive punch and then transitions into a very vibrant and inspiring chorus. I would say I prefer the first half of the album to the second half, but it is really close. Rush simply knows how to produce great full-length albums with great engaging songs from start to finish. That is why they are the masters!

    To conclude this article, I recommend anyone who has not yet checked out these albums do so right away, because you are sure missing out on some amazing music. For all those Rush fanatics reading this article, please tell your thoughts on these two releases in the comments section and maybe even share some memories when the albums came out. The best part about being a Rush fan is that you can meet people who are just as passionate about the music as you. Plus, we can agree that no matter what the trend in music is at the time, we will always have those timeless recordings from one of rock’s greatest bands (In my opinion, they are the greatest band)!