Friday, November 20, 2015

Chasing Shadows - Black Tide

This is the third studio album by one of my favorite bands, while I was in High School, Black Tide. These guys had a great, maybe one day classic, with their Light from Above 2008 debut record. Most metal fans should at the very least like that. I don't see why not, there's even a killer cover of Hit the Lights. I personally didn't get into them until about 2010, the year before their second album Post Mortem. I saw them while they were touring with that album, and I got a signed poster and CD. I also have a not signed CD from the day the album was released. While I can't say everything about it was amazing, I still enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting fun, and the cream of that crop still holds up. Now there has been so much shit leading up to this album here's a quick catch up. They kind of went on a hiatus after that tour, they released the Spanish versions of the tracks they originally recorded for the 2nd album as an EP. That was recorded during the  sessions, its a long story. The following year they released Just Another Drug and it didn't feature the bassist (Zakk). Then the groups drummer (Steve Spencer) soon left to become a DJ. So in 2013 they released another EP Bite the Bullet with an even dumber cover than Post Mortem, and name. It also featured a new drummer, while the lead guitarist/singer played bass and I think they added a member Raul. Now this comes out, featuring another new drummer and at this point I feel Gabriel (kinda leader of the group) is holding on to strings at this point. Another thing to mention is, based on my history with this year (and given their recent history), I am expecting nothing. And.......... Well....... Check it out for yourself.
  1. Intro: This is exactly what it is called, an intro. It's an acoustic track that reminds me, sort of, if you took out the real strings (or the more real sounding string sounds), Jason Becker. This whole atmosphere of the track is very a kin to Perpetual Burn.
  2. Guidelines: Sort of a weak title if I do say so myself. The flow between tracks isn't half bad, but this is basically All That Remains, Bullet for My Valentine and Ashes (from their last record). In fact, the beginning of the track reminded me very much of that track.
  3. Angel in the Dark: No, I refuse to hear this title. Like a Lame title, almost as lame as City of Sin. It also reminds me of Rainbow in the Dark. But you know what, I won't let it bother me as long as the songs good. It could be called Alphabet Soup and if it rocks it rocks. First time through I don't really remember, but this track is almost the same song that the last one. The acoustic guitar section is nice and pretty, but I added something in off the top of my head and it made it way more interesting. It's too bare. This is too straight forward, not very fun to listen to, considering I heard it before.
  4. Predator (Animal): The thing I feared, while I was doing this review for real (post initial listen), would I have enough to say. I mean four tracks in and they are basically variations on the same song. Yes they are different songs, but they are so fucking similar in everything it's kinda sad. Sad in that it makes me sad, not in that it's something you should feel sorry for. 
  5. Burn: I can only hope this is a solid cover of Deep Purple's 1974 classic. I mean the Prowler and Hit the Lights covers were solid. Well finally a change of pace, while I think this sounds like the slower songs on the last record, it's still nice to hear a change rather than the same thing over and over.
  6. Chasing Shadows: This, honestly, is the "coolest" title on the album. If any other was a title track it'd be very lame. I heard this song and the intro reminded me a bit of Hail to the King, but out side of that there isn't anything else to say that hasn't been said earlier. There is section right before the chorus I kinda like, but those strings fucking kill me. In the worst way possible, I almost don't want to finish this record. Even thought the song is kind of ruined for me, I will admit it's the best put together thus far, though the strings could have been taken our of the first chorus to show changes and a build. But I kinda feel like this is, in 6 songs, the second to actually be written and not just a changed in lyrics or a little minor variation.
  7. Before we Form: Reminds ms of Before we Began.... Ha-ha self referential humour, what a gass. Refer to earlier tracks. And that is all I have to say about this track.
  8. Sex is Angry: I can't....... While most of the songs here are very similar and have no real impact on me..... I can't get behind this track. I mean, yes its sonically similar to the previous album, but this is just. I feel it should be angrier or sexier. Instead its basically every other track on this album. 
  9. Welcome to Misery: Lame title, but I think this would work as an opening track's title on the new ETF record. I mean, this is sort of a change of pace, a bit, but why have all those same song and not place this somewhere else. Also this in'st really anything that notable. I mean it's technically a highlight, but it isn't that great of a song.
  10. Heaven: "Is A Place On Earth". While I disagree with Belinda, I would never tell her in person. Why may you ask, because she's gorgeous. She was even in Playboy, and issue I plan to own someday. Like top 10 I want. Did you know she was a Go-Go before she went solo. Yeah, and she released a cover of I Feel Free and Band of Gold. I know that's crazy right bro? Also you may be wondering what this has to do with the track, well it has something to do trust me. Maybe not in a conventional " this person did this" way, more of a "its the point". She is also, along with Tiffany, my favorite 80's singer to be in Playboy (if memory serves and I'm not forgetting someone). Now the point, the connection between what I just said is the exact same thing as what i have to say about the track. Absolutely nothing #WarWhatIsItGoodFor. Okay, I will admit it isn't half bad but this is basically a Into the Sky. The arrangment is pretty, but this just..... it's still a bland song. There isn't anything that makes me have any feelings other than this is different, and it sounds like another track from another album. So basically, I have nothing to say.
  11. Promised Land: If memory serves, this is the only track I dug on the record. Not musically though, more of the spiritual aspect. But when I re-listened to it I didn't really get the same feeling I did the frist time. I not only didn't care for the music, it sounds like PM, I didn't feel the sentiment was the same.
Overall I have to give this album a 4/10. The first time I heard this I knew how I felt. The sad thing I'm realizing is one of my favorite types of music, metal/metalcore and also some rock, no longer bring me any joy. I mean there was a point where I could pick just about any album by an artist I liked and I thought it was at the very least great. But after re-listening to As I Lay Dying, Black Tide, Falling in Reverse, Killswitch Engage (maybe not to the extent of some of the others), Escape the Fate (the amazing records are still amazing) and so on. But I really no longer have the same thrill that I once had. But the thing is this album is a less interesting take on Post Mortem. If you want to check theses guys out I'd suggest Light From Above, Post Mortem and Just Another Drug.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ungrateful (Deluxe) - Escape The Fate

Because Spotify is an asshole (and changed Hate Me to (Deluxe) I have to download the album), I decided to finish this album. Also I have a job now, so I won't be able to put stuff out like I've been the last two months or so. Cool, this is album four, by one of my favorites, Escape The Fate. We were last left with 2010's Self Titled album. Minus G3 and World Around Me the album sucked dick. You can like it all you want, but it wasn't a "Gorgeous Nightmare"...... That would be a Zorn or Yamantaka EYE record (hahahahahahahahahahaha). That wa, on a more serous note, their darkest record to date. And I don't really think people would argue with me on that. Now 3 years later, no Max and two new members, kinda, here we are..... also the new record blows.
  1. Ungrateful: This is a pretty great opener. This is catchy, heavy and everything that's great about Craig's part in the group. This sounds like it would fit very comfortably on the follow up to, hypothetical, This War Is Ours. I've heard this song tons of times and it's still pretty great. I mean the riff is there, the vocals are pretty angry and this might be angrier than past releases. I mean I could just be imagining it, but I feel like there is an anger when he screams, he isn't just screaming. And while not the best solo in the world, it certainly is memorable and fits.... and while it doesn't go to long, it is a tad on the short side. But I mean, I don't think it'd fit for it to be longer in this given song. It might just be me wanting . Plus I can honestly say the electronics here sound much better than on the last album.
  2. Until We Die: This intro reminds me a shit ton of As I Lay Dying. I can't think of the song, but seriously. It's almost lifted from the song I'm thinking of. I want to say Nothing Left or Repeating Yesterday but there may be one where it is quite literally quoted from. While this song is pretty solid, I think the weakest link here is the chorus. Don't get me wrong, I think this is pretty great.... it's just the last song was much better all around. I'd give this anyday over Hate Me, but still. I think the piano section is very tasteful, and sets a distinct section.... but I think it was done like 100 times better in World Around Me and G3 (If I'm remembering correctly).
  3. Live Fast, Die Young: This is very close to the sound I didn't care for on the last record. And the worst part is the lyrics are kinda stupid. I mean all the lyrics be this stupid, but at least they aren't so overtly dumb to my ears when I hear them. This is almost like he bashed his head in and then wrote the songs. Now this isn't overtly terrible, but I just don't like it. Like if I wasn't reviewing this I'd click skip. 
  4. Forget About Me: This is a return to a tasty lick. But then he starts singing, and after the stop I began to get nervous. I don't think this is bad, it's just.... It isn't clicking with me. But all can be forgiven when I hear that solo. It's easily one of Montey's best. It's so good the song I didn't give two shits about I'm all the sudden listening far more attentive.
  5. You're Insane: This is another decent track, and another single released from the album. I liked it far more when I first heard it. Upon re-visitation it doesn't hold up at all. Although I can pull another AILD thing. Though the main riff reminds me a bit of Avenged Sevenfold. The vocals reminds me a tad of Girl I Know and there is something that makes the Self Titled record pop in my head. The more alternative parts of that record.
  6. Chemical Love: *Sigh*. The digital distortion waves would bother me regardless of how much I like the song. They don't ruin it, I just notice them. But even if they were taken out this song is so..... I just don't like it. I think it's too poppy, ha I know I like music far poppier, but it's just like trying to appeal to a broader audience. They could completely be doing this of their own choice, for artistic reasons, but I just can't get behind this. I can tolerate, but not support (defend is a better word).
  7. Picture Perfect: The beginning of this doesn't really sound like this band. While I may not have liked it at first, it isn't half bad. It's pretty relaxing and pretty. I think the melody is nice and its easily one of the best songs here. It doesn't blow my mind, but its an example of a nice change. While it's more in line with the electronic tracks, its different enough to where I can say its different. 
  8. Risk It All: This is a generic rocker that is on the album. Not a heavy rocker, more of a alt rocker. I mean there isn't anything to report about that sticks out to me. 
  9. Desire: Nice riff, but then the song goes into this vibe I don't jive with. It's really not insanely different from the prior track. 
  10. One for the Money: This, now in 2015, isn't the worst song they ever put out. No that award belongs to Let Me Be. But if this was don't in 2013 it would take the cake as their worst song, in my opinion. The lyrics are horse shit, and music is just ..... it's the worst of what the Self Titled had to offer. The solos has this epic feeling, and has a like build up that doesn't pay off at all. It's just.... trade this with any of the bonus tracks.
  11. Fire It Up: The best way to end the record would be with a Picture Perfect or a Father, Brother. Instead we get a Black Tide track, kinda. Do I think this is bad, not necessarily. I just don't agree with this as the closer. It's not as satisfying as it should have been, and I mean seriously it's not like the electronics are not in the picture. So why not re arrange the tracks.
Now on to the bonus tracks, I'm going to include the iTunes and Japanese bonus track just because I can. Yeah I said it, I CAN.
  1. I, Alone: This feels like one of the more alternative tracks on TWIO. It's not half bad, but I feel like this is best as a bonus track. This could actually be an outtake, be it recording or it was written, from that period. It's kind of a nice little treat you know.
  2. Father, Brother: I don't really have anything to say I haven't said before. It's a nice track, good as an extra though. While I didn't look into the lyrics, I like the idea of what I picked up on. About relationship with his family. While it's been done before I can always support someone writing to someone who played a huge part in their life. The ending would make for a very neat ambient piece. I wish this would have been in the record just to end on that. 
  3. Losing Control: The second I heard the drum machine drums I rolled my eyes. And then the vocals come in and I just close my eyes and take it. The more of this track that reveals itself to me, the less I like it. And the more I feel like it's dug it's grave deeper.
  4. Apologize: This introduction isn't half bad. This is a quicker song, and it's pretty nice. While the chorus is pretty light, I still would trade this over any of the ETF-esque album tracks. This isn't the best track, thought the solo is tasty. I don't know, it feels like a bonus track. The ending also reminds me of Welcome to the Black Parade.
Overall I have to give this a 6/10. This album is best described as the album that was unreleased and bridged the change in sound between This War Is Ours and Escape the Fate. There isn't any other way of describing it, other than maybe some parts are darker than the second album. I also want to mention, I plan to do Just Like You this month.... as in finish it up. And hopefully Chasing Shadows too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Welcome to My Nightmare - Alice Cooper

For numberous reasons outside of my control I wasn't able to complete this review in time for 10/31. But at least I got some extra time with it you know. Closing this very special 2015 October month themed Halloween extravaganza revenue I picked a very special album. The album I picked is this, the best Alice Cooper album. I think of it as a coda to a string of records I consider to be really really good, dating back to their 1969 debut. The end of the Golden Age if you will. Even though I lose interest in AC's output after this album, minus a few tracks here there and The Alice Cooper Show live record (Which puts a hole in my "Only the original bands material is good,  it sucks when he went solo" theory), I don't think anything post this is terrible. Its just not the golden age. So, as i just mentioned, this is when Vincent began releasing solo material under the name Alice Cooper. This is something he continues to do to this day, considering I think it's now been legally changed to it. This is also a concept album, I believe the "group's" first, and it takes place through the nightmare of a character who would later be a reoccurring character in the Cooper universe. Kinda like the continuing adventures of either the character or archetype taken from Tunnel of Love forward, by Bruce Springsteen. This part in particular takes place when he's a child, Steven. I almost forgot to mention that the lucky bastard had a television special promoting the album with Vincent Price as the narrator. Oh... plus Lou Reed's (most of it) joined to play on the record.
  1. Welcome to My Nightmare: Opening the album is a number that kicks ass. It starts off with a hitting of the cymbals and an acoustic guitar chord. Then comes in the vocals, with a quite more dreamy feeling song. The bass here sounds really neat, and I'd almost not think this is a Cooper song. Until we get the more rocking section. But it's a bit too much going on for it to be "rock". There are very interesting textures in this song, horns, what sound like a clavichord and I almost feel like Brian Eno produced this (Here Come The Warm Jets). This is a very good show starter, and it is very theatrical. If you were as intrested as I am, you could listen a number of times and still not pick up on all the sounds in that track.
  2. Devil's Food: This title reminds me of In the Wake of Posiden, specifically the tracks Cat Food and The Devil's Triangle. This is much more straightforward than the last track. I mean there are still there like weird changes in production styles that are going on within song, but I dig the vocals. And is that an interlude with Vincent Price. It is.... The bass in that section is awesome, the rhythm has this military feeling to it. It's funny, half of this song is like a voice over with the song pushed way back. He's giving us a history lesson on the Black Widow, but.... You gotta give it to Price, he makes it very intresting. The song begins to come back in
  3. The Black Widow: This is a sinister track that makes me think of Holy Diver. This chorus is very memorable and I love the guitar here. The chorus is so hypnotic I feel like if you listen enough, or are high, you'd be tripping balls. This could easily be a tripping balls song in a movie. Or a going to hell song. I also love the like variation on the theme that could be played in an overture. That is not something I'd expected (I've heard this before but the first time). This over all is a solid rock song, that isn't something I'd quite consider to be a rocker.
  4. Some Folks: This is a cabaret number that harkens to the vaudeville days. I might be wrong on that vaudeville thing, but still. This song is very can cany. This has a very Alice Cooper feeling to the song. It actually reminds me, after the intro, a hint of Man With The Golden Gun. That chorus is very catchy, poppy, but not shitty. I kinda wish I could sing along, and the post "baby baby" section, that fucking piano. And that guitar and the tempo....... Great. This song goes from sick to cutsey (well as cutesy Vincent can get) to weird to all over the place. And that BASS..... YES! GUITAR SOLO.... YES! It's like spit fire, only down side is didn't last longer, thought the ending is very tasteful.
  5. Only Women Bleed: I never once thought this was about menstruation, whats the point? I mean... I guess seeing the groups humor with songs like I Love The Dead and Dead Babies, monthly bodily cleansing from Mother Nature isn't that crazy of a topic (its much more natural at least..... Well kinda, I mean child neglect isn't something I'd consider natural nor necrophilia but some may disagree). I always thought of it as more of a woman bleeding, or maybe a tongue and cheek anti-woman track... I don't know,  does it really matter? I don't think he's actually having intercourse with corpses, so cool off. The thing is you could also look at it as only women truly struggle, I mean there are a lot more for them to put up with and society expects certain things of them. Now maybe not so much now, but women still feel pressures to look a certain way. And they are expected to live a certain way, and that's kinda what this song is about. I mean it's about abuse (or a bad relationship), but women are still kind of expected to get married, back then they certainly were. It's very sad if you actually think about it, like I get that gut feeling that hits me right there. This song musically really is a masterpiece. Lyrically this song is great at painting a picture of this terrible occurrences that happen. It only really hits you when you take the time to realize it.
  6. Department of Youth: This has a very Foreigner feeling (with the organ) in the beginning, but also this song reminds me a hint of Elected. I do get a laugh out of that weird accent, but this song has him singing as he would for the rest of his career you know that almost impish sound he does. As poppy this song is, there is something that makes it a little off that I can't quite say it's pop. Form the placements of synths (or organs or whatever keyboard instruments pop up). This also has some very nice and,  great to me, backing vocals and harmonies.
  7. Cold Ethyl: This his a rocker that would sound that crazy on a maybe a Stones record. Maybe not so much them as a like generic rock band from the 70's or 80's. The solos are nice, but they are more generic here. And while its generic rock here, I still like the humor of the song. I think that's the best part, and the front to back changes of style you know.
  8. Years Ago: Here we get their take on a Fixing A Hole. Rather than using it to be psychedelic there is a circus meets evil meets Halloween feeling to this song. I feel like this could open a horror movies, maybe a low budget or cheep 70's or 80's one, but none the less. For that reason also there is a spot in my heart for this. I think this is where the story starts. It's the first mention of Steven, it might not be the first in the story, but I also don't care enough to look into it. I'd rather enjoy the music and lyrics but not as a story.
  9. Steven: Tyler? Perry?  Which one? This starts out with a quotation of a classical piano piece that I can't quite pin down, but I will add later. This is a neat enough song, but I don't dig the fact the whole beginning relies so heavily on that quotation. I do dig the later part. Like if there did this song exactly the same, without the quotation, maybe I'd LOVE it but I can't say I love it because of that you know. Don't get me wrong this has great guitar, gorgeous strings and is expertly arranged. Bob Ezrin my hat is taped off to you. And that ending................ Oh it kills me that the beginning reminds me so much of that one thing. I'd give the song a 10.
  10. The Awakening: This has this electric piano, and piano in the beginning I love how the accompany each other. They really do each other justice, and the whole lucid (right, that's the right word) of that beginning..... it's nice. This song almost borders on psychedelic. I love the almost classical electric guitar part that that reminds me a bit of Brian May. The worst part about this song is it fades out. Also that it's a bit rushed, this could totally be much longer to let the parts flesh themselves out.
  11. Escape: Closing the LP we get a glam rock track. This is another simple song, but it works. There isn't any expert arrangement here, but it's like a very satisfying closer to this album. It's like, what I feel like, "Eff Yeah, We made a killer record!". This is very solid.
Overall I have to give this album a 8.9/10. This album is easily the best "solo" Vincent Furnier album, and is in the top 5 Alice Cooper albums. This is a bit baffling, how come he never made anything this good after this. Seriously, think about it. I mean this album this is kind of a masterpiece. It's very well arranged, I don't know about the theme (but the music makes up for it so much). The reason this album is so great is most every song has a distinct sound of it's own. And yet it still works and is cohesive of an album. Now I don't really care to look into the story because it seems to not really happen until like the B-Side..... I don't know. And Even though I bolded some over others.... just check this thing out.... it's really really really good. Don't ask about Welcome 2 My Nightmare.... I don't like to think about that.