Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In This Moment Promises There Will Be Blood

He, who learns to welcome misfortune, learns that adversity is the prosperity of the great. This saying definitely applies to Maria Brink and Chris Howorth of In This Moment. They have had many ups and downs since the band’s formation back in 2005. They’ve had almost as many bass players as Spinal Tap had drummers. Last year, their metal saga suffered yet another blow all thanks to American Idol of all things. Yet, through it all, Brink and Howorth kept marching along and not allowing any distractions to capture their Iron Army flag.

The band lost two key members in drummer Jeff Fabb and guitarist Blake Bunzel last year, forcing them to stop and refocus. That loss came just a couple of months before they were supposed to enter the studio to begin on a new album. It ignited something in the duo and awoke a creative beast hungry for redemption. The result is the band’s fourth studio in five years entitled Blood.

The album kicks off with a short song entitled “Rise with Me” which has been serving as the introduction to their live show. It sounds like an intro to a fantasy or futuristic movie and serves as a great kickoff to what is in store. That song leads into the title track and the album’s first single “Blood”. Upon first listen, it’s hard not to notice new elements incorporated into the sound of In This moment that we have grown accustomed to. The first name that comes to mind would be Nine Inch Nails and possibly even Fear Factory. It’s the sound we expect from the band, but with a dose of steroids.

“Adrenalize” has an underlying groove that grabs you at the beginning and grinds its way throughout the entire song. The guitars have a heavy sound to them that’s brings to mind early Pantera. “You’re Gonna’ Listen”, which has already received some play on satellite radio, is a kick ass number with a guitar solo guaranteed to melt your face. This song definitely has a little bit of a Deftones feel to it.

One of the standout tracks on the album has to be “Whore”. The band really explores outside of the box on this with results that are going surprise many. The first time that I heard the song, I couldn’t help but to think of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” when I heard the guitar intro. This is a hot number that combines some newly added electronic elements to their sound with a catchy guitar riff that hooks you in. Maria’s vocal delivery ranges from the sweet and innocent lines of “I can be your everything” to the anger that flows when she screams “you’ll love me for everything you hate me for”. “Whore” is a powerful song on both a musical level as well as a lyrical one.

“Burn” is another powerhouse number and is one of many different layers. As the song progresses, it just seems to keep growing and the more you cut into it, the deeper it gets. It starts out with a layer of piano with some electronic sprinkled on top that gives it a very alluring feeling. Then, as you sink your teeth into that layer, the drums and guitars come crashing in and take it in a totally different direction.        

“Scarlet” is another venture off the traditional In This moment path with very favorable results. It’s a song of forbidden love between two people who have shared so much, yet as Maria sings, “you know how this will end.” It also has a nasty bass line that thumps along almost like the heartbeat of the two lovers in the song. Throw in a wicked little guitar solo and you have the makings of one killer song that could easily get major radio airplay.

“From the Ashes” is a track that sounds new and fresh, yet familiar at the same time. I think it incorporates elements of the first album that will make quite a few fans happy.  “Beast Within” is another one of those songs on here that has a funky under groove to it that is infectious and burrows its way into your head. When Maria mentioned that the new album was sexy and alluring, she wasn’t wrong.

“Comanche” is a song that manages not only to kick some major ass, but it’s also a lot of fun. It kicks off with a nasty bassline and Maria experiments with a bit of a different vocal technique at times that’s pretty cool too. The drumline going through it has a tribal feel to it also. The album closes with a haunting, yet beautiful song called “11:11” and it’s an all vocal song by Maria. When it’s your time to go, can you say that you have lived and loved?

Overall, this album is pretty amazing and it will bring some new listeners into the fold and it may even turn some away who cannot get into the industrial/electronic elements that have been added. Bands have to grow and evolve in order to stay ahead in the industry today and especially if they want to have any legs and be around for a while. I love the new elements that they have added to their sound. At times, it’s not as heavy as their last album and that heaviness has been replaced by a dark and alluring sound that is somewhat sexy at times. I also have to give props to Chris Howorth. He’s never been a slouch when it comes to his playing, but the fire that he and Maria speak of runs all the way through this man’s fingertips. He is playing like a beast on this album. It’s not all in the shredding, which will definitely melt your face, but he’s also a master of some of the simpler chords which adds so much to a song.

It is a rebirth as Maria has stated before and it may take more than one listen to fully appreciate and grasp what the band is doing. The core of Chris Howorth and Maria Brink are not going to let anything get in their way of taking their dream to the next level. This is a new and improved version of their dream and they continue to lead their Iron Army along the journey.

Whitechapel Bring The Brutality On New Album

Whitechapel burst onto the deathcore scene back in 2007 with their debut album The Somatic Defilement. It didn’t take Phil Bozeman and the guys long to leap to the front of that genre. These guys are road warriors and have played everything from The Summer Slaughter Tour to the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and the Vans Warped Tour. 2010 was a big year as their album A New Era of Corruption had a strong debut at number 43 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. They teased their fans last year with the release of their Recorrupted EP as they worked on their new album.

That brings us to this month, which saw the much anticipated release of their new self-titled album. It’s their fourth full length album in five years and it’s sure to turn a few heads with both new fans and old ones. Producer Mark Lewis (Deicide/Devildriver) seems to have taken different elements from their previous albums and combined them to push the band in a different direction. Wait, don’t get too upset. I know that you may have heard of the guys adding a piano to a couple of songs, but this is still the dark, depressing and brutal Whitechapel that you have all grown to love.

The album opens with a shocker of an intro to the song “Make It Bleed” as a piano slowly begins this track. Wait, don’t be too alarmed, but there’s also an acoustic guitar on here too. Well, that’s definitely something new and thinking outside the proverbial box, but don’t fret because it doesn’t take long into the song that you realize this is definitely Whitechapel. The three guitar attack of Alex Wade, Ben Savage and Zach Householder quickly refresh your memory as to what you love the brutality that this band brings to the table.

Speaking of brutality, strap yourself for the second track entitled “Hate Creation”. This song takes off at mach speed and doesn’t let until it’s over. I think it’s one of the better tracks on the album. The band is not known for having “catchy” songs with memorable hooks that have you singing along with just one listen, yet this song will leave a mark on you after you hear it for the first time.

“(Cult)uralist” is a crushing song that combines one of the better vocal deliveries by Bozeman with some insane riffage from the guys. “I, Dementia” has an interesting intro that the band branches out to try. There’s even some electronics found on this track, but don’t worry. It’s just a little something added to the song and it works, but don’t freak out and expect a huge departure for this guys. I, for one, think it’s great that they like to experiment. “Section 8” is included on here and it’s a song that many of us should be familiar with as it was the lone new track on their EP Recorrupted that was released late last year.

Don’t be afraid, but the song “Devoid” also has a piano intro! The song is a three minute instrumental journey that really showcases that these guys can be diverse in their delivery. This song may actually be the slowest that they have ever played. 
an>It’s not a full frontal lobe assault with this one. It chugs along at a slower pace and not quite as brutal.

Overall, this album shows some growth for the band yet it maintains its brutality and dark side. The lyrical content varies quite a bit ranging from songs about people being followers but not leaders to the ever so optimistic there is no hope for the future. Bozeman’s vocals seem to be angrier than normal as his delivery seems to be more rage driven. Also, the addition of Ben Harclerode on drums seems to have sparked something within the camp. This guy is a beast and he beats those drums like they owe him money.

Bozeman has stated in interviews recently that he was not happy with their 2010 album A New Era of Corruption because of how it was written. They were written by individual band members instead of then writing it together as a band. Well, Bozeman set out to correct that with this album and all the songs were written as a group effort. This seems to work and is very effective as the band delivers some of its best material to date on this new album.

Miss May I Tread Familiar Ground On New Album

Ohio’s Miss May I have been a favorite of the metalcore genre since their 2009 debut Apologies Are for the Weak. After touring with such heavy weights as The Devil Wears Prada and a run on the Vans Warped Tour, Miss May I have moved closer to the forefront of the genre. With all that being said, the impending release of their newest album At Heart had the eyes of many on this band. Would this new album propel them over so many copy cat bands and to the front of the pack? Well, let’s look at the new album and see what it has to offer.

Vocalist Levi Benton and the boys start off with a short instrumental that also doubles as the title track, but track two is where we really want to turn up the volume. The song is called “Hey Mister” and it’s the lead-off single. By now, I am sure many are familiar with it. There’s a pretty good riff that weaves it way throughout the song, buzzing along and weaving in and out. The chorus features a mix of clean vocals, provided again by bassist Ryan Neff, and Levi’s screams. It’s not a bad choice for a lead-off single and it’s worthy enough of getting the listener’s attention.

“Opening Wounds”, in my opinion, is a stronger overall song both musically and lyrically. I think this song would be an excellent choice as the album’s second single. “Ballad of a Broken Man” is also a good track with some nice riffs and a good hook and it kicks some pretty major ass. Don’t worry; there are definitely plenty of breakdowns on the album for all of those who haven’t grown tired of them.

The rest of the album will certainly appeal to the die-hards of the band and maybe even some of the non die-hards because it sounds a lot like what they have been doing. I don’t mean that to come across as a slam, but you are getting what you expect from these guys and to some fans, that’s a good thing. I just don’t think that they have broken any new ground on this new album. They haven’t raised the bar, yet they haven’t lowered it either.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad album, yet it’s not an amazing album either. Levi’s vocals are pretty consistent with what he has been doing, but in a genre that is becoming almost over-saturated, you have to stand out and not just blend in. He’s solid in his delivery and he is good at what he does, but on a lot of songs there was nothing there that made me go “Wow!”  As for the rest of the band, they put in a solid performance. Lead guitarist Justin Aufdemkampe is really good and he really did shine on several tracks, as did rhythm guitarist B.J. Stead. The rhythm section of Jerob Boyd on drums and Ryan Neff on bass are as solid as they come and they definitely can hold a song together when it may falter in other areas.
I guess I was just looking for more originality, something to make these talented guys stand out from the sea of similar bands. I’m not sure if the changing of producers from Joey Sturgis to Machine was the right thing to do. If these guys are going to want to run the marathon and not just sprint, then they need to stand out in some way from these other bands. The talent is there and maybe they just need to find their metal core Yoda to guide them to that next level

Spineshank Return With A Strong New Album

Who out there remembers Spineshank? You know, they burst onto the scene back in 1998 with their debut album Strictly Business, which was heavily influenced by Fear Factory. The song “Stain” even includes a vocal performance by Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell. They followed that album up with The Height of Callousness in 2000 and even performed on Ozzfest 2001. This album saw the band firing on all cylinders as it was praised by fans and critics. After their Self-Destructive Pattern album was released in 2003, things took a turn for the worse.

Lead singer Jonny Santos parted with the band in 2004 because of the over-used, but in this case very appropriate, term “musical differences”. A new vocalist entered, but things didn’t click. 2008 was a pivotal year as the band not only officially broke up, but later that year they got back together with vocalist Jonny Santos and worked out their differences. That brings us up to 2012 and the band is now signed with Century Media Records and their first album with them entitled Anger Denial Acceptance has just been released.

If you are new to the world of Spineshank, then this is a good point to jump on board. If you are a longtime fan of the band, this new album may just surprise you. The band has a new sense of direction and they are more aggressive than ever on this release. The opening track “After the End” certainly sets the tone for what’s ahead on this album. Santos lets out a roar and Tom Decker starts bashing on the skins and the ride officially begins. Santos sounds great on here with his mixed bag of vocal styles. Mike Sarkisyan starts laying down some might tasty riffs with Robert Garcia laying down a mean bass line that wraps it all together.

Garcia is front and center and laying down a killer bass line on “Nothing Left for Me”, which definitely starts off in a more melodic direction. The chorus has Santos mixing up clean vocals with his growling alter vocal ego.  This track isn’t as aggressive, but it shows the band has more layers to them than first believed to. The title track presses the gas all the way to the floor and it’s a full-on thrash fest. Well, that is until the chorus becomes melodic and eases up a bit on the throttle. Decker is a beast on this one as he beats the skins like they owe him money.

“Murder – Suicide” is another great track and it contains some killer and unique riffs. This song has many layers to it as it bounces around different tempos and melodies. This one should be a favorite if included in the live show as it will get a moshpit going in no time. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. “God Complex (anger)” is reminiscent of old school Anthrax. It’s full on aggression with the end of the song being a complete change of pace and direction from the first half.

The album closes with the song “Exit Wound” and will catch many off guard. A song that’s mainly acoustic and piano with its chorus kicking in some thunder as Sarkisyan crashes in on guitar. I can see where this track may turn fans of the heavier stuff off, but I commend the band on thinking outside of the box and showing some diversity on this track.

Overall, this is a really good album from the guys. It’s a bit raw at times and definitely a lot more aggressive than in the past. For older fans, the guys still incorporate the use of electronics, but they seem to do so more sparingly. They pick and choose the spots to add them in and when they do so, it definitely benefits the song without becoming overkill. They have a new label, a new album, a new hunger and a new direction for these guys after being quiet for too long.