Latest

4 Reasons To Listen To Demon Hunter

Why you should be listening to Demon Hunter in a few simple paragraphs:

  1. The Music: In a world of oversaturated metal where so much just falls along the mass of down-tuned muddy and sludgy guitars, Demon Hunter reminds people what metal is about. Since gaining Patrick Judge on guitar back in 2009, the band has refined their technical sound. Many songs, ballads and big hitters feature intricate and inspiring solos that hit in your chest. Most importantly, the songs are unrelentingly heavy without sounding like a band who’s just trying to sound heavy.
  2. The Words: Demon Hunter is a Christian-metal band. That’s no secret, nor was it ever. However without alienating their audience, vocalist and founder Ryan Clark is able to inspire all listeners in similar ways Tim Lambesis did with As I Lay Dying. Many songs are about conquering fear of all kinds – even dying. Others are about overcoming the affliction of toxic people, and events in life that drag people down. The most evident theme in their songs is unwavering belief in yourself and never compromising what you hold true.
  3. The Voice: Ryan Clark has without a doubt one of the most recognizable vocals in metal both screaming and clean vocals. And I know what you’re thinking… “Clean vocals?? Count me out.” Before I lose you, listen to a few songs. Demon Hunter doesn’t fall into the same horrible formula that too many metalcore bands serve. The clean vocals are of a screamer singing with force. It isn’t an annoying, high pitch teenager singing about their day at high school.
  4. The Beard: ryan-photoSo stop what you’re doing, get on Youtube, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, whatever you fancy and look this band up.

Check Out “Death” Music Video By Demon Hunter

Album Of The Year – Kadavar – Berlin

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Review Album Of The Year:

Kadavar’s Berlin

noise_kadavar

Having reached a score of 9.o in its review, Kadavar’s third album is named the album of the year. While other well established bands such as The Sword, Ghost and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats put out a mixed bag of albums, Kadavar is an illuminated sun among mere stars.

Berlin is special because it’s simple in the best way possible. It’s stripped down rock and roll while retaining a catchy and heavy feel. The vocals are smoother, the guitars are dirtier, and the bass and drums groove more.

Other honorable mentions and possible contenders for the title are as followed:

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence

Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

The Sheepdogs – Future Nostalgia

Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie – Review

Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie – 2014

81mbgwra2jl-_sl1500_

Production: 9.0 – Highlights what each instrument does best.

Songwriting: 9.5 – Near perfect songwriting from cock-rock “Electric Man” to story-telling with “Good Things” and “Destination On Course.”

Musicianship: 9.5 – Rival Sons return with everything being better, and this time they bring an organist along.

Overall: 9.5

Rival Sons have been around since 2009 and have risen through the ranks like no other modern band. Having toured with Deep Purple, Aerosmith, and now the honor of opening for Black Sabbath’s final tour, this 4-piece has a lot to live up to.

“Electric Man” is the first single from the album and begins the album on an extra fuzzy and fun note. The quick single features all the things Rival Sons has to offer. Jay Buchanan’s voice rises to the point of screaming, Michael Miley’s drums boom with a powerful kick drum as well as his signature use of the bell on the ride cymbal. Newcomer on bass – David Beste immediately shows that he belongs in the band, especially with his basslines and licks in “Good Luck.”

Rival Sons are recordoholics. They have released albums in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Each record is different and displays the evolution of a rock band doing different things, remaining relevant, and kicking ass each time.

In addition to the mysterious name of Great Western Valkyrie, the album gives a very distinct western feel. The use the organ helps with that ambient feel. Ikey Owens (rest in peace) played organ for most of the album and it added a new flare to the sound Rival Sons produces. In fact, the bass and organ make pure magic in “Good Things.”

Beste’s bass walks with a groove and Owens’ organ works evenly with the guitar in the verses. Keeping on with “Good Things” which is arguably the most memorable song on the album, Buchanan throws his name in the hat of storytellers in music. The lyrics seem as if they come from a cryptic fiction novel or an old movie. “Good Things” just furthers the old western feel of the album.

Scott Holiday shows off his best work on “Secret” and “Destination On Course.” The former song shows off the best studio performance from Buchanan to date and the heaviest riff from Holiday. “Destination On Course” ends the album on a strange but good note. The first half of the song is an epic story that seems like a more well thought out and produced “Manifest Destiny Pt. 1.” The track builds and builds to a final climax and guitar solo that sends shivers. Another notable performance on the song is the use of an angelic yet eery choir. After the heaviness is over, the song just follows a wandering riff and some distant and peculiar sound effects.

Great Western Valkyrie is the fourth full length album from Rival Sons and proved once again that they aren’t a one, two, or three hit wonder. They’re here to stay and they’re showing each year that true rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead, and will never be dead.

Notable tracks: Secret, Good Things, Belle Star, Open My Eyes, Destination On Course

 

Release Date: June 6, 2014

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Electric Man
  2. Good Luck
  3. Secret
  4. Play The Fool
  5. Good Things
  6. Open My Eyes
  7. Rich And The Poor
  8. Belle Star
  9. Where I’ve Been
  10. Destination On Course

We Are Back!

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Review is back for the new year!

The past few months have been pretty silent here simply because I’ve been focusing most of my writing efforts on a few fiction novels I’m working on. But now, RNRR is back with more reviews from an approachable point of view.

If anyone didn’t know, RNRR is currently run by just myself. I am still in the search for another person to write reviews and possible blogs. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at zinnyzxx@gmail.com

Thanks for sticking with me, the response to the site has been encouraging and has helped the site remain alive.

Here’s to the holidays and the new year!

REVIEW

 

Haste The Day – Coward Review

Haste The Day – Coward – 2015

Production: 7.0 – The rawness compliments at times, but damages in others.

Songwriting: 7.5 – Practically two different bands, so style differs from song to song.

Muscianship: 8.0 – Growls, High screams, double bass, riffs, breakdowns, HTD does it all right.

Overall: 7.5

coward_by_haste_the_day

This year saw the return of metalcore giants Haste The Day. The 9-piece, yes you heard right, 9-piece band put out their first album in 5 years. The result of the long hiatus is a mixed bag with good highs and seldom lows.

The reason Haste The Day features 9 members on Coward, is that it’s essentially two bands on the record. Haste The Day lost their first vocalist/screamer Jimmy Ryan after two albums. Stephen Keech took over for three more albums before the band disbanded. Now Haste The Day is back with a joint effort of all members, past and present and created a 100% true-to-form HTD record.

Since most fans of the band are forever split on favoring the first or latter band lineup, the album will be a toss-up for some.

The very first thing that is apparent and oh so obvious is the peculiar production of Coward. It’s reminiscent of Underoath’s Lost In The Sound Of Separation. It’s raw, busy and dirty. However, a downside of the production is that the vocals get lost multiple times throughout the album. The drums are the toughest pill to swallow. They are huge, reverby, yet compressed at the same time. As a drummer myself I would expect to love it, but it takes away from the rest of the music. Coward took many plays before I ended up actually appreciating most of the production even though it is flawed.

For the most part, Stephen Keech and Jimmy Ryan take over an entire song by themselves, but there are a few songs where they join together. Keech kicks off Coward with “Begin.” It’s an infectious riff that had my interest from the first ten seconds. However Keech’s yelling halfway through the song can be a bit off-putting.

“Take” – the second track is the first featuring Ryan. It’s a disappointing initial return for the original HTD member. It starts in an angry feel and when the vocals kick in, it has an appealing sound. The downfall however comes with the chorus. The gang vocals that are the entirety of the chorus don’t mix at all with the raw production and come off as too much and takes the listener out of the song. On top of that, the chorus sounds like it belongs to a different song as the verses don’t mesh well.

“World” is where the first shiner really is. The newer HTD lineup takes their time building the song up from a lone guitar to a boomy drum beat in the back. The feel of the song comes off as inspiring and mosh worthy. It’s a fist raiser, and scream-in-your-car kind of song. It features the first breakdown on the album that caught my attention. Where  “Take” failed in regards to clean vocals, “World” succeeded. Each section of the song compliments the next.

“Coward” and “Lost” also solely feature Keech on the screams and are strong songs giving the middle section of the album strength and power. “Reconcile” is different and I still don’t entirely know how I feel about it. The first two minutes is just guitar and drums with an echo-filled speech from C.S Lewis. It’s nearly impossible to understand anything that’s being said. When the speech is over, the transition into the second half the song isn’t smooth. It seems like two halves of a song that don’t belong with each other.

Next is “Shadow” and Jimmy Ryan finally showcases the brutality he can bring to a song. With the opening words being, “I will take you where your shadow cannot go.” For safety reasons, it’s not recommended to listen to at high volumes while driving…as it causes intense speeding. “Shadow” is the first time both Keech and Ryan are joined for a song – at least significantly enough to notice. Even though they are drastically different singers in sound and in their style of metal, they mix nicely and create one of the best songs on the album.

They are also joined for the following song – “Fail” however it’s the clean vocals in the chorus that give the song the power to be remembered.

“Accept” is an immediate fan favorite. It is in every way reminiscent of classic Haste The Day. Ryan delivers his best performance on the album. The tail-end gives a vicious breakdown with melodic clean guitars and Ryan screaming over “Have I gone too far from you?”

“Gnaw” sees the album to an end. It’s a decent closer that only becomes memorable in the last moments when the riff slows down. It’s only fitting that the heaviest moment on the album, is the last seconds.

Coward is a good album. The best part about the album is also the worst. Since all members are on the record, it’s the best of both worlds, but for the sake of the flow of the album, it’s disjointed and strange at times. If taken on a song by song basis, the album is a great one, and if it ends up being the final album from the boys in Indiana, it’s an ending I was happy to hear.

The lacking originality in the metalcore genre could take a few lessons from Haste The Day as they have shown again why they are one of top bands in it.

 

Release Date: May 18, 2015

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Begin
  2. Take
  3. World
  4. Coward
  5. Lost
  6. Reconcile
  7. Shadow
  8. Fail
  9. Accept
  10. Secret
  11. Gnaw

Artifex Pereo – Time In Place Reivew – 2014

Artifex Pereo – Time In Place2014 – Blurb Review

Overall: 6.5

Artifex Pereo put out their first album on a label – Tooth & Nail Records in 2014 and despite being somewhat disjointed, deserves attention. They could fit in a plethora of genres, rock, pop/rock, pop/punk or even screamo – but not really. Time In Place boasts of complex guitar work and equally complicated drum parts. The band strives to create an album that is musically – a work of art without taking away from the ability to enjoy the record. This – they have achieved. The biggest setback is the placement of songs. The album ends on a strange note with consecutive soft songs that lack direction.

Still, Time In Place is an album fans of The Almost, The Wedding, and Wovenwar.

Standout songs: Hands Of Penance, Laugh & The World Laughs With You, and The Golden Age.

Release Date: May 27, 2014

Tracklisting:

  1. No Stranger To Worry
  2. To Listen & Say Nothing
  3. Hands Of Penace
  4. Annica
  5. Laugh & The World Laughs With You
  6. Liable For Tragedy
  7. The Straight & The Winding Way
  8. Aperion
  9. The Golden Age
  10. Cut Sign
  11. Weep & You Weep Alone
  12. Tied To The Sunset
  13. Overview

Beware Of Darkness – Orthodox Review

Beware Of Darkness – Orthodox – 2013 – Blurb Review

Overall 7.5

Bursting onto the rock scene with their popular single “Howl,” the trio Beware Of Darkness released an original debut album. To say that it is only original doesn’t fully describe how unique this effort is. After the single, the album takes many unexpected turns. Orthodox isn’t an album littered with songs trying to sound like “Howl.” Instead, there are songs that invoke nostalgia, anger, and deep sadness. “Ghost Town” can only be described as angry. While not being too heavy of a song, it’s filled with undertones of anger and bitterness in the lyrics has an overall eeriness of it. “Amen Amen” whether intentional or not causes the listener to think back on their life. It’s a song that gives the album weight and meaning. The only other single to see radio play is “All Who Remain.” The song was written by vocalist and guitarist Kyle Nicolaides about his mother. It’s a ballad that rings with the heartstrings about losing someone you loved dearly. Even though the album doesn’t end on a heavy note, it ends on a peculiar one. “Hummingbird” is reminiscent of music made decades ago.

Orthodox is anything but orthodox. It’s a bag of songs all dripping with raw emotion given in an honest sound.

Standout songs: Howl, Ghost Town, All Who Remain, and Morning Tea.

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Tracklisting:

  1. Howl
  2. Sweet Girl
  3. Ghost Town
  4. Amen Amen
  5. All Who Remain
  6. Heart Attack
  7. Morning Tea
  8. End Of The World
  9. Life On Earth?
  10. My Planet Is Dead
  11. Salvation Is Here
  12. Hummingbird

Day Of Fire – Losing All – Flashback Review – 2010

Day Of Fire – Losing All – 2010

Flashback Review

Production: 8.0 – Losing All was recorded live and it gives the record a natural feel not found in many albums.

Songwriting: 7.5 – The band mixes it up with each song and strays from the typical verse/chorus repeat syndrome.

Musicianship: 8.5 – Riffs and grooves any rock band should hope for in the midst of one or two missed tracks.

Overall: 8.0

Losing All unfortunately happened to be the final album from the Grammy-nominated rock band Day Of Fire. However, the music world was fortunate enough to get such a stellar record. After going nearly three years as an independent band and releasing two albums on Essential Records, Day Of Fire found a home in Razor & Tie Records. However temporary of a home, the short lived partnership gave us Losing All – a record all modern rock bands should strive for.

The album kicks off with “Light ‘Em Up,” and it sounds of Stone Temple Pilots and maybe a hint of Filter. Highlights of the album are many. “When I See You,” “Lately,” “Landslide,” “We Are No One,” and “Hey You” are all rock anthems that rise above the muddied copies of copies on the radio. “Landslide” is potentially the heaviest song on the album with an infectious opening riff and an ever impressive solo from Joe Pangallo. However, it’s the final song on the album that brings enormous amounts of substance to the album. Regardless of how one feels religiously, the dark but Christian themed “The Dark Hills” is a musical, lyrical and production masterpiece. Drummer Zach Simms floor toms thunder in the background behind Josh Brown’s haunting vocals. The track explodes at the end and leaves the listener wondering, where would they have gone from there?

Losing All is a great rock album that shouldn’t be mixed in with the everyday typical rock flooding the radio-waves.

Pros: Powerful rock songs littered throughout the album with an impactful ending.

Cons: “Airplane” and “Hello Heartache” placed at the beginning of the album doesn’t give Losing All the beginning strength it deserves.

Release Date: January 26, 2010

Tracklisting:

  1. Light ‘Em Up
  2. Hello Heartache
  3. When I See You
  4. Airplane
  5. Lately
  6. Cold Addiction
  7. Landslide
  8. Never Goodbye
  9. Hey You
  10. We Are No One
  11. Long Highway
  12. Strange
  13. The Dark Hills

Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon Review

Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon – 2015

Production: 9.5 – Production shines as the best in today’s music.

Songwriting: 9.5 – Masterful songwriting in arrangement and lyrics.

Musicianship: 9.5 – A more enticing and powerful voice may not be heard in today’s music.

Overall: 9.5

2012 saw pop music change. Despite releasing an album previous to the juggernaut that is Born To Die, Lana Del Rey burst onto the pop scene with the vision of doing things a bit differently. She didn’t cater to the 3 minute verse chorus repeat and repeat humdrum pattern that has plagued the pop culture. She hasn’t masked her talent in shades of auto-tune and drowning beats. Her voice is the reason for the music, and her lyrics are the reason for the journey.

Fast-forward three years to today, Lana has released her fourth album – Honeymoon, and it is stunning and brave. Following the trend she’s since the last album, Ultraviolence, Honeymoon is further stripped than its predecessor. Where Ultraviolence featured reduced percussion and sound effects, Honeymoon often relies the distant company of a piano, strings and acoustic guitar.

Beginning with the self-titled track, “Honeymoon” starts Lana’s greatest musical and vocal achievement so far. It’s somber, it’s sad, it’s classic Lana Del Rey – at least in lyrical fashion. Musically, it’s the most stripped down song in her career. The nearly six minute track is driven almost solely by her vocals. The chorus features the statement, “Our honeymoon, say you want me too, dark blue.” It’s a song open to interpretation like many others, but it allows the listener to make the song their own. “Honeymoon” begins the album on an intimate and personal note that tells everyone, this isn’t just another pop artist album seeking the top 100.

“Music To Watch Boys To” continues the stripped theme but does feature some percussion, strings, piano and flute. Production shines on this song because it’s relaxing and laid back while also seeming to be upbeat enough to be a single for the radio.

Lana Del Rey’s music has been described as a myriad of genres, but one that has stuck out is 50’s – 60’s lounge music. It’s a genre only occupied by Lana, and it creates an image that’s hard to forget. When I heard “Terrance Loves You” for the first time, I saw a smoky bar set back a few decades and Lana standing next to an old piano singing for the cast of Mad Men. The chorus is angelic to the point that it melts away the world around you until you’ve entered her realm. It’s a beautiful song invoking emotion when she sings, “I lost myself when I lost you”

“God Knows I Tried,” follows a similar path without seeming like a remake and has a revealing lyric: “I’ve got nothing much to live for ever since I found my fame.”

“High By The Beach” is a single that is already a favorite off the album. It’s poppy and fun. Unfortunately it takes me out of the trance the rest of Honeymoon has put on me. I don’t knock it for anything, it’s just not for me.

“Freak” is a perfect example of how Lana has changed the formula for today’s pop music. Entrancing vocal melodies in the verse that travel up and down the scale, and a chorus that gets stuck in your head and not because it has a simple and dumbed down elementary beat. “Freak” gives the middle of the album strength and substance.

Building off the shoulders of “Freak” is “Art Deco.” It’s a vocal triumph not for sheer range, but in songwriting. The melody in the verses demand attention as she hits each note flawlessly. The two songs prove that Honeymoon isn’t just a few good songs, it’s an album of ambient music.

“Religion” and “The Blackest Day” showcase Lana’s clear talent and beautiful songwriting. On the adverse, “Salvatore” is amiss and brings the album down.

Lana Del Rey has silenced the critics and masses who said that her major-label debut Born To Die couldn’t be beat. Without saying one is better than the other, Honeymoon is simply but a near masterpiece of songwriting and beauty. It’s an album more than worth buying on vinyl and spinning in the evening while drinking a fine wine.

Release Date: September 18, 2015

Tracklisting:

  1. Honeymoon
  2. Music To Watch Boys To
  3. Terrance Loves You
  4. God Knows I’ve Tried
  5. High By The Beach
  6. Freak
  7. Art Deco
  8. Burnt Norton – Interlude
  9. Religion
  10. Salvatore
  11. The Blackest Day
  12. 24
  13. Swan Song
  14. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence – 2015

Production: 7.5 – Moments of greatness mixed with a few flaws.

Songwriting: 8.5 – The usual Graveyard master-writing while heavily progressing.

Musicianship: 8.5 – It’s Graveyard. They are the modern masters of fusing blues, rock and metal.

Overall: 8.5

If the last decade has taught the world anything in the realm of music, it’s that Sweden produces the best rock ‘n’ roll. Ghost, Witchcraft, Vidunder, The Hives, Troubled Horse and so many more. The territory can confidently boast of the top tier vicious hitting rock that no other can.

September sees a release from the ever bluesy rockers Graveyard. This fourth effort might test the flexibility of the listener in a similar way The Sword has with their latest – High Country.

The album kicks off with “Magnetic Shunk” in classic fashion that reminds fans for a fourth time why Graveyard are the kings of what they do. Vocalist Joakim Nilsson offers nearly the best 3 minutes in the history of the band. From soulful lyrics to a fiery scream, Nilsson gives the song his all. However after the stunning first track, the second brings some question marks to the direction of the album.

It’s not that “The Apple & The Tree” is a bad song; and it’s not that it’s strange simply because it’s a low-key track. It’s just strange that for the first time, Graveyard gives us a song without a climax. The chorus carries the same tame tone that the verses hold. Only raising in small ways near the end that bring the song to a decent finish – it’s a song that requires many listens over a long period of time to appreciate it.

“Exit 97,” just like the previous song continues the album into an unknown direction. One could compare it to Lights Out’s “Slow Motion Countdown” simply for the pace and emotion however it’s clearly its own song. The bass isn’t fuzzy, it’s buzzy. On top of the buzz, the song features a synth that sounds of the 60’s. “Exit 97” goes through many breaks, pauses and pickups. It’s a strange journey, but upon reflection, it’s a journey the listener will be happy they traveled.

For the sake of familiarity, thankfully the following track returns to a more traditional format. Only reaching 2 minutes and some change, “Never Theirs To Sell” is a fast and ferocious trek. The track offers a guitar solo in the waning seconds and a highlight performance of drummer, Axel Sjöberg.

The album then takes another turn for the peculiar with “Can’t Walk Out.” It’s the longest song on the album, but by far the most adventurous of the eleven tracker. Maybe the song will grow on me at some point like “The Apple & The Tree,” but for now, it’s a wandering miss.

Graveyard has always been a soulful band. In addition to having heavy and hard hooks, the band gave some of the most inspiring performances to set the soul aflame. However “Too Much Is Not Enough” dives into blues in a way that causes the song to stand triumphantly by itself. From the lead guitar that dances around the heart, to a choir of gospel-esque singers, the song demands attention. One thing Graveyard is hammering into the fans at this spot in the album is that they’re able to progress and evolve as a band again and again in any direction they please.

The following song is something of a rarity. Bassist, Truls Mörck takes over vocals and gives a cleaner sound compared to Nilsson. “Hard-Headed” is a raunchy rocker despite the featuring of abnormally low vocals harmonizing with Nilsson.

The last two tracks end the album on a slow note. The former of the two – “Far Too Close” will have your head bobbing along with the drums and doomy guitar. However the final song goes even softer and sadder. The guitar tone is trademark Graveyard – a beautiful clean tone with each string and note ringing clearly. “Stay For A Song” like so many others on the LP, stand out and alone in the midst of all other Graveyard songs. The somber Nilsson sings on “Won’t you stay for a song? Won’t you stay one more song? Won’t you stay on more song?” The track seems like a song written to a lover or possibly the audience themselves with a lonely nature. The last 90 seconds of the track is mysterious, as it’s only filled with keys and a wandering bass guitar. Regardless, the song shines as a lyrical shiner and an emotional rollercoaster.

In conclusion, the album is an oddball, but a good one. Innocence & Decadence is a perfect example of a band trying new things and succeeding at them. Despite traveling a little too far into the atmosphere for my taste, the only lasting negative aspects of the album are held within the production. The ride cymbal is polarizing and gives an almost annoying tone at times. The buzz of the bass and bizarre low tones of the guitar are off-putting when they occur. Besides that, Graveyard shows adversity and talent throughout the eleven song effort.

Release Date: September 25, 2015

Tracklisting:

  1. Magnetic Shunk
  2. The Apple & The Tree
  3. Exit 97
  4. Never Theirs To Sell
  5. Can’t Walk Out
  6. Too Much Is Not Enough
  7. From A Hole In The Wall
  8. Cause & Defect
  9. Hard-Headed
  10. Far Too Close
  11. Stay For A Song