Wednesday, August 30, 2017

QOTSA Villains: New Album of The Week

  So I meant to write this Friday when the album officially released, but being one of the few people

who did not listen to it when it leaked I was caught rather flat footed. Now I've done quick

turnarounds before, particularly with the How Did We Get So Dark review; the difference there was

that I knew exactly what my thoughts were after two listens. With Villains however, it's taken me a

little longer to get a grasp on this thing. This album features some of my favorite QOTSA songs of

all time as well as some that I can't stand.

  Starting off we get a slow Stranger Things synth filled buildup that quickly turns into funk and

fuzzy masterpiece Feet Don't Fail Me. Mark Ronson's style is all over this track, with the heavy

compression and retro styling he is known for blending with QOTSA's Stoner Rock filth. This is

precisely what I was expecting after hearing The Way You Used To Do as the lead single. This song

also features a really slick solo and a dynamic end that fades out before turning into aforementioned

The Way You Used To Do (review here).

  After a strong start we go into a somewhat darker track called Domesticated Animals. This track is

filled to the brim with the snark and wit that Josh Homme is known for, featuring cynical lines that

explore themes of dominance and power. The chorus seems to be commentary on the cyclical nature

of power and freedom; every revolution just leads to another leader to revolt against
(as illustrated below)

The songs' mysterious feeling is aided by it's 7/8 time signature adding an off kilter rhythm to it.

Homme appears to be using the metaphor of domesticated animals to allude to the way people

are essentially tamed by their leaders and governments.

 The next track Fortress is one of my favorite songs on the album and is by far the most touching

thing I have ever heard from QOTSA. The song uses the metaphor of the heart as a fortress at first,

describing how people hide away their true feelings by locking their heart away. The metaphor can

then be linked to the first chorus with the line "every fortress falls" relating to a broken heart. At the

same time the rest of the song seems to be talking in terms of more general hardship and darkness,

likely referencing Homme's own depression.

Where the song takes a really touching turn is when you realize that at least part of the song is

written to Homme's children, with the lines,"...I pray you won't feel as alone as I have felt...I tell you

the awful truth, Everyone faces darkness on their own, As I have done, so will you" being particularly

heartbreaking. Homme then wraps it up by simply letting them know that even if their Fortress falls

they are always safe in his.

 Following that emotional strong point is the track that only QOTSA could record, a slightly insane

track called Head Like A Haunted House. This song features Homme doing his best Elvis / Michael

Poulsen from Volbeat impersonation over the rest of the bands take on  Psychobilly. I've heard some

people say the track feels out of place on this album, but I think it works perfectly as a call back to

the more typical QOTSA sound. While this song is fun and pretty solid, the same can't be said for

most of this album's second half.

  Despite the strength of the album up to now, I just can't get in to any of the last 4 tracks except for

The Evil Has Landed (review here.)  Un-Reborn Again and Hideaway are forgettable and Villains of

Circumstance is just kind of okay. So yeah, in total this album is pretty awesome; even though I don't

like most of the the second half of the album, the first half is so good I'm still recommending it. Plus

I understand my opinion on those 3 songs might not be in the majority here, so give it a listen for


Album on Google Play

Album on ITunes

Album on Amazon

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Megadeth Risk- Throwback Album of The Week

Throwback Album of The Week is posted every Wednesday

    For last week’s Throwback review I looked at the universally hated St. Anger by Metallica; this week we are looking at the biggest flop by fellow Big 4 band Megadeth. While Metallica’s worst effort was due largely to under production and being extremely un refined, Megadeth’s worst album kind of had the opposite problem. Megadeth’s 1999 album Risk strayed far too close to mainstream rock, mixing in a lot of Alternative Rock and Industrial elements that made a lot of Megadeth fans very angry. Dave Mustaine has said before he believes if the album had not had the Megadeth name on it, it would have been a huge success; today I aim to put that to the test.
    As I have never really been a huge Megadeth fan I feel that I can be impartial in looking at this album as it’s own entity. Honestly I kind of see what Mustaine meant, listening to the first couple of tracks it doesn’t really sound bad so much as weird. The first track Insomnia has a definite Nine Inch Nails sound to it, with some driving synths under some downright nasty sounding guitars. The thing that will sound familiar to Megadeth fans here is Marty Friedman’s epic guitar solo on the bridge of this song.
    Moving on to Prince of Darkness I’m seeing a very specific style for this album, kind of a blend of old school Metal and 90’s Industrial. Prince of Darkness is really close to Insomnia in style, but as the album goes on tracks start to feel more Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden influenced. One track in particular sounds like it draws heavy influence from a particular Thrash Metal band by the name of Metallica. I’m honestly surprised no one has brought this up before but The Doctor Is Calling main riff sounds extremely similar to Metallica’s One. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s kind of shocking that as petty as Metallica fans can be that no one brought this up.
    Honestly though, I kind of dig parts of this album. Not going to try and say this album isn’t still pretty bad, but it’s nowhere near as bad St. Anger. The biggest issues on this album is that this style isn’t Megadeth, it feels like a half hearted attempt to sell out by incorporating popular elements such as Industrial and Alternative Rock without going full bore into those genres. On top of that, a lot of the lyrics and deliveries on this album are really cheesy without the full bore Metal attitude that would normally cover that up.
    For comparison to Metallica I’d say this is better than St. Anger but worse than Load and ReLoad, mostly because Metallica went a little more hardcore when it came to jumping around new genres and ideas on Load and ReLoad. So I’d say Risk would have been an average album by anybody else, but from Megadeth it’s confusing and kind of disappointing.

Album on Google Play

Album on ITunes

Album on Amazon

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

QOTSA The Evil Has Landed-Single of The Week

Single of The Week is posted every Tuesday

    Today we are looking at the newest single by Queens Of The Stone Age in anticipation of their new album Villains, due for release this Friday. This track called The Evil Has Landed is a bit different from the previously released The Way You Used To Do, feeling much more like a blend of classic QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures. Unlike the majority of Villains (according to those who have heard the leaked version) this track doesn’t feature many funk elements, instead being mildly bluesy with a straightforward rock sound overall. The one similarity this song does have to The Way You Used To Do is that at least parts of it have the same signature Mark Ronson production.

    The only real issue I have with this track is that the first 2:30 or so is extremely thin sounding with the drums and bass being barely audible and the guitar being compressed to hell. On further listens I realized that it works as a bit of a buildup as the subsequent sections get progressively nastier and thicker. Even though the sterile production on the first section of the song is a bit much for me, I still find this track to be a great effort from QOTSA. I think this is a nice middle ground between their usual sound and the more polished and funky sound of Villains overall.

    I’m curious to hear how Mark Ronson’s clean cut and compression heavy production style works on the full album as QOTSA are generally a pretty dynamic and lo-fi band. The combination could certainly work as previous artists like Jack White and Muse have taken very raw and nasty sounding music and converted to clear and sharp production similar to Ronson’s. From the clips I’ve heard of other tracks, Feet Don’t Fail in particular this album appears to have a really nasty funk vibe to it, similarly to The Way You Used To Do. While funky QOTSA might not sound appealing to everyone, I really dig what I’ve heard so far.

    Overall I think this track is good, it’s a bit of a struggle for me to get past the first section because the drums and bass being so low in the mix and all of the empty space bugs me. Once I get past that section though this song absolutely rocks. I get the effect they’re going for, and they do accomplish it by starting small and then ramping up, but I just don’t like the beginning that much. So yeah, I’d quantify that as like a 6 or 7 out of 10 if I did ratings.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Metallica St. Anger- Throwback Album Of The Week

Today we are looking at an album considered to be one of the worst of all time. Not only is this album considered objectively bad, but even more disappointingly it comes from one of the greatest Metal bands of all time. Today we are looking at St. Anger by Metallica.

The biggest issues on this album have very little to do with the music, with production and runtime being the biggest issues here. Metallica decided to take a very lo-fi approach to this album, attempting to convey the anger and frustration present during its recording. Because of their dedication to keeping it as raw as possible none of the songs are polished beyond their simplest forms, featuring no solos and a raw Garage Rock aesthetic.

Unfortunately these choices, while keeping the music very raw sounding also doesn't cover up mistakes or disguise bad choices, like Lars Ulrich's loose snare sound. While a loose snare sound on it's own isn't bad, the recording techniques used mean that not only can you hear this horrible pinging noise every time Lars hits the snare, but you can hear the loose snares rattling in the background of most of the songs. This album also features some of the least complex bass playing to ever appear on a Metallica album since producer Bob Rock actually played the bass for this album.

These recording issues and bad drum sounds are only exacerbated by the length of a lot of these songs. Simple and straightforward tracks like St. Anger and Some Kind of Monster are stretched to over 7 minutes when they should only be 4 at most. They keep the same length from their usual songs without having the complex layers. And just to add insult to injury, not only is the music not of a particularly high quality, it also sounds extremely dated as the band sound like they were trying way to hard to fit in with the Nu Metal trends of 2003.

    Despite these numerous issues, I'd still recommend the tracks Some Kind of Monster and St. Anger. While they should only be about 4 minutes long, they are both pretty good songs and, for me at least, overcome the recording issues. Even with a few tracks that I actually like on this album, it’s still the worst Metallica album of all time. While a lot of people don’t like the style of Load and Reload, St. Anger is objectively a horrible album.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

6. Country Music With a Dark Side

Justin and Noah play songs from the wrong side of the tracks. Today's playlist is all about haunting gothic Country music.

Find us on ITunes

Listen on Google Play Music

Trivium The Sin and The Sentence: Single of The Week

Single of The Week is posted every Tuesday (from now on)

The newest single from Trivium sees the band bridging the gap between their earlier sound and the sound seen on Silence In The Snow. While Trivium have always changed up their style between albums, but the biggest change came on their 2015 album Silence In The Snow which featured no harsh vocals at all, and overall had a more classic Metal sound. This was due to singer Matt Heafy damaging his voice and being unable to do harsh vocals at the time of recording, combined with the departure of drummer Nick Augusto and his subsequent replacement by the less skilled Mat Madiro. Due to all of these circumstances Silence In The Snow was a good album, but it was much more stripped down and straightforward compared to Trivium’s usual work.
The new single, The Sin and The Sentence bridges these two style of Trivium extremely well. For all of the hate on Vengeance Falls and Silence In The Snow by die hard fans, those two albums featured some of the most impressive clean vocals by Heafy to date. Those vocals are on full display here, with Heafy using his powerful lower voice to sing most of Sin and The Sentence. On top of this we have the return to form on harsh vocals, with Heafy screaming for emphasis just like their older albums. Along with the vocals, the music is allowed to be much more complex and interesting because of new drummer Alex Bent. Bent facilitates more interesting guitar playing by Corey Beaulieu and Heafy.
    This track quality wise is somewhere between Vengeance Falls and Shogun, having an awesome sound and great musicianship without being as high brow as Shogun can be at times. From everything I’ve read this seems to be the general direction of their upcoming 8th album, and I personally think it’s a good direction for them. While I don’t expect this to be Shogun, I think it will be one of the best albums Trivium has put out, being a good return to form after the limits that were placed around Silence In The Snow.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Missio Loner: New(er) Album of The Week

New(er) Album Of The Week is posted every Friday

    So my first introduction to Missio was their terrible hit Middle Fingers, a pompous and boring track about being a self important hipster. Essentially the message of the song, without a hint of self awareness or irony is that he’s a cool outsider because his taste in everything is whatever the mainstream is not. Literally the only way he qualifies his tastes is that it’s not what other people like. This message is transmitted via a song that sounds almost exactly like the typical minimalistic electronic track that is popular right now. Given my disdain for this track, I wasn’t expecting much from their full album, and I was not disappointed.
    I’ll admit the first two tracks caught my attention for a brief moment, with Animal actually not being too bad. The second track lost me when it’s fairly up tempo intro faded into another slow and plodding track the moment the vocals came in. This is kind of like the modern equivalent of Darkwave, being the dark and dreary alternative to the type of minimalist electronic music played on pop stations. I Do What I Want isn’t terrible, with some cool synth effects and a pretty good vocal delivery on the verses, but it get’s boring fast.
    As Middle Fingers comes around I realize that the reason this album sounds so boring is because, aside from being simple and empty sounding, every song sounds painfully similar. The vocal and drum production is so identical on every track that they all kind of flow into each other, which is not helped by the lead singer's devotion to sounding as half asleep as possible.
    Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea is probably my favorite track, just because the use of the piano and dark atmosphere work for the lyrics of this track. Plus the title is actually a pretty interesting lyric, and the underwater sounding synths harmonizing and playing around the vocals is actually pretty cool. It’s still a chilled out and mildly boring track, but it’s the kind of spacey and chilled out music I can get behind. The same cannot be said of the next track Kamikazee.
    With a name like Kamikazee I would expect something energetic or bombastic, or at least interesting. Nope, this is a boring brag rap song done by a half asleep indie singer. How the hell a song called Kamikazee has a refrain about money, power and champagne is beyond me. But this track at least makes more sense that KDV.
    KDV, which stands for Killing Darth Vader is just a weird song. The hook of “Killing Darth Vader with my M****er F***ing Kick Drum” was apparently inspired by someone uttering that phrase after knocking over a Vader bobble head when hitting the kick drum. After each utterance we also get a distorted sample of The Imperial March, which I guess is supposed to add to the joke. The issue is if that is supposed to be a funny lyrics why doesn’t anything about it sound like a joke? The lyric is delivered like this deadly serious line that’s supposed to somehow tie to the existential crisis of the rest of the song. Maybe these guys are so hipster that their irony is actually not ironic, making it even more ironic; isn’t that ironic, don’t ya think? But this fails as a joke song for the same reason most of their songs fail as regular songs, it’s too boring!
    Twisted is a knock off Weeknd song, and not a very good one and the closer DWI is the same boring as the rest of this album. Everybody Gets High and I Don’t Give A… are actually not bad, with Everybody Gets High being a dark mix of Dubstep and Trap that work pretty well and actually sounds interesting. I Don’t Give A… is similar but features guest rapper Zeale who actually gives a Missio song a pulse for the first and only time on this album.
    I can’t say I hate this album, it’s hard to muster up those strong emotions for something this boring, but I definitely don’t like it. It’s a boring and dull electronic album that is dark for the sake of sounding dark without any reasoning or justification for it. With few exceptions the songs are dull and plodding with the sheen of hypocritical Indie arrogance plastered all over this thing. Plus they abused Darth Vader and this is inexcusable.

Album on Google Play
Album on ITunes
Album on Amazon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The White Stripes Icky Thump: Throwback Album of The Week

Throwback Album of The Week is posted every Wednesday

    Today, in honor of the 10 year anniversary of Icky Thump as well as the impending delivery of my Third Man Records Vault Package 33, I am reviewing one of my favorite albums of all time, Icky Thump by The White Stripes. Icky Thump is the final studio album recorded by The White Stripes before their breakup in 2011 and was the first album I ever heard featuring Jack White. Icky Thump actually sits as a bit of an oddity in The White Stripes collection, featuring the loudest and most abrasive sound of any of their records. While each record by The White Stripes has it’s own variation on their core sound, Icky Thump took that sound and cranked it up to 11.
    The opening track by the same name as the album was an eye opener the first time I heard it; I didn’t know you could have a song with a guitar riff as the chorus. The heavy palm muted guitar on the verses perfectly mixes with Meg White’s drumming to create this track’s punk swagger and build up to the crescendo of the chorus. The demented keyboard scattered throughout and Jack’s rapid fire vocals create the perfect opening track.
    The next track is a favorite of mine because of the lyrics, where Jack mocks and offers advice to someone who doesn’t understand the difference between love and following commands. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) is one of the snarkier tracks on here as even though Jack is attempting to offer advice he can’t help but be annoyed by their lack of understanding. The instrumentation on here is classic White Stripes, a perfect mix of rock aesthetic firmly rooted in the Blues.
    Next we have 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues, the mostly acoustic soft track of this album. Jack has an affinity for putting one of two of these on every album and this is a particularly strong one. Despite some very nonsensical lyrics the track conveys the feeling of disinterest and boredom that I think Jack was going for. The lyrics that aren’t seemingly just there cause they sound good or that are about Jack’s love of redheads seem to be conveying a sense of pointlessness.
    The last track I’m going to cover in depth is Conquest, one of the most interesting tracks on this album. While Jack has used similar styles before (I Think I Smell A Rat) he goes all out with the Mariachi style here, featuring a horn section to follow his vocals or guitar riffing. This track features some of the heaviest guitar sounds Jack has ever done, sounding like they would be at home on a metal album. The song about a Don Juan character who winds up falling for his conquest and being the prey to her marital ambitions works perfectly with the music video that features Jack literally becoming the prey in a bull fight.
    The rest of the album is similarly fantastic with highlights being the bagpipe driven tracks Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn and St. Andrew along with the spoken word track Rag & Bone. Aside from their first album, this is the only White Stripes album that I will routinely listen to all the way through rather than skipping around for my favorite tracks. The album is paced amazingly well, ebbing and flowing without ever losing any steam or hitting a dead spot. I highly recommend this to any rock fans and especially to anyone who likes similar acts like Arctic Monkeys, The Kills, Black Keys, Queens of The Stone Age or Royal Blood.

Album on Google Play
Album on ITunes
Album on Amazon
Album on Third Man Records

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sleeping With Sirens Empire To Ashes: Single of The Week

Single of The Week is posted every Monday (usually)

Today we are looking at the new single from Sleeping With Sirens, Empire To Ashes. This is the second single off of their upcoming album, and unlike Legends it isn't completely terrible! I wouldn’t call it amazing or anything, but it is a lot better than Legends. The song still has a very pop feel but in more of a newer Fall Out Boy kind of way than in cheap knock off of Imagine Dragons way.

This track actually reminds me a lot of Centuries by Fall Out Boy with huge sounding drums and some cool guitar riffing. While the music is polished and almost over produced, it still retains a solid enough rock core. Weirdly enough this neo Pop-Punk track is delivered to us by a second rate Metalcore act. Perhaps Kellin Quinn doesn't want to do harsh vocals anymore or maybe the band as a whole realized any genre with the word "Pop" in it is more commercial viable than Metalcore.
As always for me, the weak link on this track Quinn’s high pitched vocals; I cannot stand this guys voice. Quinn’s voice is way too high and way too boyband sounding for my taste; and I am a legitimate fan of both Matt Bellamy and Justin Timberlake’s voices. The difference is Quinn doesn’t have the power and vibrato that Bellamy commands in his upper register or any of the coolness that Timberlake has in his delivery; Quinn just sounds like he swallowed helium. To be fair this song is one of his better performances, but I just can’t stand listening to his voice.
The other thing I don’t like is the half hearted “whoa-oh-oh-oh”s after each chorus, which is only slightly better than “remember, remember” and “hey, whoa-oh-oh” on Legends. For some reason the background vocals, ad libs and runs done by this band always sound really half assed to me. Whereas someone like Brendon Urie could do an entire song of ad libs and sound amazing, Kellin Quinn struggles to not sound like a robot. Maybe it’s just me but screwing up little things that basically everybody knows how to do bugs me more than major screw ups in a lot of cases.
As much as I dislike Quinn’s voice, this song is okay. It’s nowhere near as bad as Legends and even their synth choices aren’t too bad here. This will still likely be the worst thing I review this week, but it’s not overly horrible. If I was giving things numerical ratings I’d give this like a 4 out of 10, completely average with nothing notable to it’s advantage and a glaring issue of a lead singer.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Suicide Squad The Album- New(er) Album of The Week

New(er) Album of The Week is posted every Friday

    Today we are looking at the soundtrack album for the DC film Suicide Squad. Much like one of my other favorite film soundtracks, The Great Gatsby, there is a bit of confusion over which version is the official version. I will be looking at the 10 track version that seems to be all original songs or covers done specifically for Suicide Squad. The 14 track version features the Classic Rock tracks Slippin Into Darkness and Fortunate Son as well as Eminem’s Without Me and a really good cover of You Don’t Own Me by Grace and G-Eazy.
    The album opens up with probably the most in your face track here, Purple Lamborghini by Rick Ross and Skrillex. Ross does a pretty good job of detailing various aspects of the Suicide Squad, referencing various characters and locations from the DC Universe. His rhymes are solid enough and match with Skrillex’s amazing beat. The only real weaknesses are that Ross slips into some of his generic boasts a few times and seems uncertain on if he’s taking the role of Joker or if he’s rapping about the squad in general. Skrillex’s beat makes this song amazing however, from the horn and synth lines on the verses to the huge drop that makes up the hook, this is just further proof of Sonny Moore’s brilliance.
    The next track is a collaboration between rap heavyweights Lil’ Wayne and Wiz Khalifa and Imagine Dragons with Logic, Ty Dolla $ign and X Ambassadors. Sucker For Pain surprisingly doesn’t feel overcrowded at any point, largely because each verse adds a piece of the rapper’s personality without straying too far from the main theme. This song relates to the film more so in tone than in content, with each artist adopting some form of pain obsessed crazed criminal. While there is a decent bit of bragging it’s all set to a somber tone, with some of the rappers alluding to having a chance to do some good, paralleling the villains turned heroes of the Suicide Squad. All the rappers are fantastic and Dan Reynolds does the hook perfectly while the rest of Imagine Dragons handle the backing music brilliantly.
    We then have the biggest hit to come off of this album, twenty one pilots’ Heathens. As I’ve well established by now I am a huge TOP fan, but I actually heard this song pretty early into my discovery of them. This was the second thing I heard from twenty one pilots after the Blurryface album and I love it’s more traditional rock feel. While the verses still feature Tyler rapping, the track feels mostly like a down tempo Alt Rock track. The octave effects put on Tyler’s voice help sustain a really eerie feeling as. Along with production tricks, they also throw you off a bit by playing with syncopation on the chorus, hitting lines either early or late. It’s a very simple song with some really sophisticated elements to it and it just get’s stuck in your head for days.
    Nothing else on this album matches the power and excellence of the first three tracks; nonetheless it’s still pretty solid throughout. Kehlani’s Gangsta is a damn fine gangster’s girlfriend track that I think is supposed to be Harley Quinn’s theme song of sorts. The beat is pretty solid but Kehlani’s vocals are what makes the track work so well. Two-thirds of the next track, Standing In The Rain works pretty well; Dan Auerbach's delivery on the hook works beautifully at conveying a sense of desperation and sadness at being betrayed. The other thing that works is Mark Ronson’s beat and production, which even makes Action Bronson’s crappy rap verses sound decent. But that is what ultimately sinks this song, Action Bronson’s raps do not match the tone of anything else in the song at all, honestly Kevin Gates verses on the next track would have worked better for this song.
    Speaking of Kevin Gates, this is the first time I’ve ever bothered to listen to him and I see why so many of my friends like this guy. First off his lower voice and power behind his lines gives off this raw masculine vibe that’s missing in modern hip hop. Gate’s flow and lyrics are masterful on this track, perfectly blending his actual life into the song in a way that makes it fit with the Suicide Squad. This is the only track that gets close to the epic level of the first three tracks.
    Skylar Grey’s Wreak Havoc seems to be portraying Enchantress, if I’m going to continue trying to link songs to characters. The lyrics convey this really arrogant attitude that would really only fit Enchantress since she’s basically a goddess. There are also lines about people hating that they need her and the overall idea that all she’s here for is to wreak havoc. After this we have Grimes’ song Medieval Warfare that is just kind of there. I honestly forgot this song existed and pretty much have forgotten it again already. While I Started A Joke is technically the closing track, it’s pretty boring and not really worth talking about, to me the closer to this album is Panic! At The Disco’s cover of the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody.
    For some background, Panic! Have been covering this track live for some time now, with the members of the touring band going as far to replicate Brian May’s guitar sounds and other aspects as closely as possible. On top of the attention to details, Brendon Urie is one of three or four singers who could actually hope to do a Freddie Mercury song justice. Even though his voice isn’t quite Mercury, Urie hits every single note of the song and gives the best performance I’ve seen anyone who wasn’t a Muppet give covering this song. While I’m certainly not going to say it holds a candle to the original, this is the best cover I think we'll ever get.
    Overall this album is a little bit of a mixed bag at times, but just like the Suicide Squad movie I think the positives outweigh the negatives for me. I would definitely recommend six, maybe even seven of the songs on this album, and obviously I’d recommend the four extra ones on other versions of the soundtrack. I have to give it credit though, because basically every track on this album has a similar enough tone and style to make this feel like an album and not a collection of random songs used in a movie.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Device: Throwback Album of The Week

Throwback Album of The Week is posted every Wednesday

    Today we are looking at one of my favorite Metal bands of all time, the Industrial Metal side project of Disturbed lead singer David Draiman and Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo. The bad, called Device was formed while Disturbed was on hiatus. The band also featured Dope guitarist Virus and drummer Will Hunt as touring members. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this album is the sheer number of featured artists, with 5 of the 10 tracks having either featured vocalists or instrumentalists. Featured artists include legends of Rock and Metal like Tom Morello as well as modern artists like Lzzy Hale and M. Shadows.
    The first two singles released from this album, Vilify and You Think You Know are the most Disturbed like songs on the album. These two are exactly what you would imagine Disturbed as an Industrial band to sound like, mixing rhythmic Nu Metal guitar work with the heavy synths and drums of Industrial. Draiman’s vocals are absolutely brilliant on these songs, combining the rapid fire style that he is known for with some of the most polished vocal deliveries he has ever mustered. In particular on You Think You Know he has some really powerful vocals on the chorus and bridge.
    The track that is sandwiched between Vilify and You Think You Know, Penance is a darker song that features Draiman singing in a lower register than usual, especially on the verses. Aside from the synths this song is basically a slower version of one of the track off of Asylum. It’s a good song but it’s fairly forgettable, lacking the power of the other Disturbed sound alike tracks and not being as interesting as the later tracks on this album.
    One of the high points on this album is track 4, a cover of Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne’s legendary duet Close My Eyes Forever. In the role of Lita Ford we have Halestorm front woman Lzzy Hale who does a phenomenal job of playing off of Draiman. The vocal performance of both Hale and Draiman is absolutely perfect, turning this classic Rock ballad into an Industrial track. The music compliments their delivery as well, keeping it very low key on the verses with just some synths and occasional drums before amping up a little more on the chorus with the guitars and drums coming in.
    The next track is possibly my favorite on the album, featuring the greatest idea for a collaboration ever; David Draiman and Serj Tankien. Out of Line features Draiman and Tankien trading verses of politically charged lyrics condemning rich and powerful people who got where they are by crushing others. Along with the ridiculous combination of vocalists on this track we also have Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler adding some sick bass lines. This combination of modern and old school legends of Hard Rock and Metal is damn near perfect.
    The next track Hunted is actually the first song that was written for Device, initially created as a track Draiman was pitching to be on the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack. While the song wasn’t use for the movie Draiman finished it and put it on this album. The lyrics are all obviously inspired by Underworld: Awakening, being about the alliance of humans and Lycans against the Vampires in the film. The music is very heavy, having thick synth basslines throughout the track with the guitar coming in and out on the choruses.
    Opinion and War Of Lies are really just one long song, as they are almost the exact same topic, while Opinion is aimed at someone who claims to not care about the corruption of our world while War of Lies appears to be directed at the corrupt ones. They’re both good but Opinion has Tom Morello playing guitar on it so it’s instantly much better than War of Lies.
The next track features M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold and Draiman trading off describing the high of being on stage. Draiman has routinely described performance as his drug of choice and him and Shadows capture the dependency on it that hammers the metaphor home.
    The last track is the most emotion filled and powerful track on the album, while also being the most dynamic one. Through It All is also the strongest duet on the album, with Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Draiman’s voices complementing each other perfectly when they harmonize. Draiman adopts a low voice to complement Hughes’ operatic high voice. This is an Industrial power ballad, starting off very slow and dark before reaching the climax on the bridge where the guitar comes in powerfully to lead into the crescendo of the final chorus.
    The deluxe edition also features a pretty good cover of the Nine Inch Nails classic Wish and a bonus track called A Piece of Me. Like I said at the start, this is one of my favorite albums of all time and features some of David Draiman’s strongest vocal performances to date. This album is what made me really take not of how good of a singer Draiman is, and because of it made a lifelong fan of Disturbed. While Device is likely not going to release anything other material now that Disturbed is back together, I’m really glad that we got this masterpiece of an album out of them at least.

Album on Google Play

Album on ITunes

Album on Amazon