Greetings my furry friends – and welcome to the first Pit instalment of 2006.
As you already know, 2005 was undoubtedly a sterling year for all things heavy. Some killer gigs, slamming festivals and salivating albums ensured that as we hurtle into the second half of the decade; we can do so safe in the knowledge that heavy metal, punk rock and indie certainly have no intention of slowing down any time soon! Below you will find what the Crossfire review team are spinning right now:
Ryan Bird’s Top 5
However, that was then, and this is now. A new year with new and exciting musical prospects awaits us, and already it’s looking to be a corker courtesy of our very own speed metal merchants Dragonforce and their stunning new album Inhuman Rampage. Having spent the past 3 years mesmerising audiences up and down the country – as well as several jaunts through Europe and a US debut at the legendary CBGB’s – the time has come for the London sextet to make their mark the world over. Boasting staggering dual guitars, swirling keyboard and larger than life vocal harmonies; they’re simply the type of band that comes along once in a decade. Grab your swords and prepare for battle.
Waving the flag further for our fare isles are Scotland’s Mendeed and their brutal Rising Records debut This War Will Last Forever. Don’t let the appearance fool you. These cheeky chappies may look like the type of young man Zac would love to take home to mummy, but armed with such sonic tongue lashings as The Black Death, the Glaswegians may prove to be one of the biggest success stories of the coming months. Pick up your copy from February 6th at all fine retail establishments.
Rarely equalled and almost never outdone, the coming weeks are shaping up to be equally electrifying courtesy of our friends from the great north Children of Bodom, accompanied by fresh offering ‘Are You Dead Yet?‘. The thrash-rock quintet may be regular chart toppers in their native Finland, but with fist-pumping stompers like current single ‘In Your Face‘ there can be no doubt that this is a band unaffected by such mainstream statistics. Dynamic, blistering and as heavy as your daddy’s ball sack; Children of Bodom are here to change your life. www.cobhc.com
Following the somewhat lacking Reroute To Remain and the steaming pile of nu-metal crap that was Soundtrack To Your Escape, In Flames fans the world over had been praying that with the impending Come Clarity the Swedish five-piece would at last return to their death metal routes; placing themselves firmly at the top of the continents ever impressive pile once more. Unfortunately for those teenage angst-bags, this is not the case, but the result is never the less a mature and expertly prepared piece of contemporary music. With such ambitious efforts as the female-led (OMG11!!!one!1) Dead End there can be little doubt that the golden boys of Gothenburg are firmly back on track. Catch them on tour throughout the UK with thrash legends Sepultura in the coming months.
Before a certain Mr. Robb Flynn decided to permanently alter the face of 90’s metal with popular beat combo Machine Head, he spent his time in hi-top sneakers and scandalously tight trousers thrashing his way through the Bay Area scene with the legendary Vio-Lence. Focussing more on beating the living shit out of their instruments than the technical proficiency of their peers, the fruits of their labour undoubtedly came into fruition with 1989’s cult classic Eternal Nightmare. Featuring a bonus disc containing a full live set from the band’s 2001 L.A. re-union, it’s a purchase irrefutably worth a few of those hard earned pennies.
As we often do in these here parts, the best has most certainly been left for last, as we present to you the brilliant new album from the Devin Townsend Band in the form of Synchestra. While many will recognise the terrifying front man as the dark and sinister force behind shit-kicking maniacs Strapping Young Lad, the DTB sees Canada’s resident lunatic engaging more in creating classic, unpredictable prog-rock masterpieces than devastating cyber-metal soundscapes. A stunning and beautifully crafted piece of music – featuring guest spots from none other than guitar overlord Steve Vai – there are unlikely to be many contenders for Album of the Year even at this early stage. Quite simply; you need this album in your life. Prepare to be born again as of January 30th.
This week, Dee Massey has mostly been listening to:
Ryan Adams – 29
Ryan Adam’s latest offering harks back to his whiskey town roots. It’s a welcome return to his bluesy guitars, drawling vocals and alt country vibe which made 2000’sHeartbreaker so acclaimed. Produced by Ethan Jones tracks meander from the distressing overwrought love songs (The Sadness), to simple guitars (Starlite Diner) to the almost upbeat (Blue Sky Blue). Adams seems in touch with his own mortality and this poignant, emotional charged album from a talented songwriter.
We Are Scientists – With Love and Squalor
Straddling the line between indie and pop punk California based We Are Scientistsare keeping it real with their debut EP. Singer Keith Murray has a seductively great voice, and coupled with intense guitars seemingly bursting out of every track, and sing-along chorus lines, they give it there all in every track ( Can’t Lose stands out) – and whilst this isn’t the greatest album ever recorded – it shows a hell of a lot of promise.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – Clap Yours Hands Say Yeah!
Don’t let the unbelievably twee name put you off. Somewhat deranged – sometimes slurred sometimes energetic – vocals courtesy of enigmatic frontman Alan Ounsworth are churned up with bouncing drums, jagged guitars and a retro pop vibe not unlike the Artic Monkeys. Pointless instrumentals are forgotten as the Brooklyn five piece toss and turn, shimmying through Self recorded and self released – it’s a scrappy album that is anything but forgettable.
Team – The Line from A-B
Captains of Industry
TEAM’s second album comes blasting out at the listener with unabashed ferocity. Bass heavy, thumping beats recreate their powerful live act, and there’s more a little nod to 80’s/90’s hair metal – which is probably why this album is so intoxicating – it’s four guys really going for it. The Guilty Language Of Gossip stands out, and whilst the album’s not some high brow statement – it’s refreshing to have a band do away with the bullshit and just rock out.
Gemma Hayes – The Roads Don’t Love You Anymore
The much anticipated second album from irish singer/songwriter Hayes is a somewhat more commercial offering than her Mercury nominated debut. The same melancholic undertones are mixed in with almost toe tapping beats, multi track guitars layered into beautiful melodies. Stand out tracks Happy Sad and Helen show Hayes, who struggled with writer’s block with this album, has much more to give.
Alex Gosman’s ears have bled to the sounds of:
‘Golden Black: The Best Of.’
Hailing from Tokyo, the legendary Guitar Wolf formed in the late 80’s, and ever since then the trio have played loud, fast, dirty punk rock n’ roll like it oughta be. With a terrifically raw production that many of today’s
garage rock bands would kill for, ‘Golden Black’ does get a little repetitive over the course of its 26 (!) tracks, but it’s hard to argue with bona fide classics like ‘Rocket Fuel’ and ‘Invader Ace’.
2006 looks set to be the Year of the Dragonforce, as the multi-national, London-based quintet return with arguably their best effort to date. The band’s usual trademarks are present and correct: soaring vocals,
ridiculously complicated solos, sheer breakneck speed – but this time everything has been taken to new extremes, to make an album that sounds absolutely HUGE. Tune up those air guitars and prepare for aural Armageddon.
‘Heaven’s Pregnant Teens’
All you eyeliner-wearing, riff-plagiarising metalcore types can start quaking in your boots, because here comes the debut Some Girls album to put you all to shame. Featuring members of bands like Give Up The Ghost and The Locust, ‘Heaven’t Pregnant Teens’ was never gonna be easy listening; thirteen beautifully chaotic, frazzled blasts of hardcore noise that at first seem almost unlistenable, but will soon grow on you in their own sinister way.
‘Through The Eyes Of Heathens’
Roll up a fat one, because it’s time for a dose of prime Scandinavian stoner rock. Yep, Dozer clearly love their Sabbath and Kyuss records, and aren’t afraid to let these influences show on their fourth album. Whiskey-soaked vocals, gigantic riffs and thunderous grooves are here in abundance – and as if that wasn’t enough, Troy Sanders of the almighty Mastodon pops up to lend vocals on ‘Until Man Exists No More’. Be sure to turn this one up loud.
‘Valor Del Corazon’
The Wildhearts frontman finally returns after a troubled 2005, with his most personal and varied record to date. Taking in nineteen tracks over two CDs, the quality control occasionally dips, but anthemic efforts such as ‘Mother City’ and ‘The Man Who Cheated Death’ are amongst the best songs the flame-haired one has ever recorded. The ‘Ginger and the Sonic Circus’ live show also comes highly recommended.
Niki Kova’cs has been rocking out to:
Giant Drag – Lemona
A fairly new 2 piece that is slowly taking the world by storm. Their albums are always sold out, at gigs, Amazon, and most stores. So if you see one grab it! They have a BIG sound for 2 people. A voice as smooth as honey masks the dark, pretty fucked up lyrics. A heavy Rock-a-Billy base-line feel meets electro punk. Their truly bizarre stage presence exudes through this album. A purely addictive album, from an equally addictive band you will wish you could mainline.
I bought all of their albums after hearing it for the first time. Confused yet? A taste of their lyrics: ‘You and your gun’, ‘Like I murdered in Sin’. They sing about love, they sing about incest, they sing about death. Ultimately uplifting, easy listening with dark undercurrents. Simple gorgeous!www.giantdrag.com
Gratitude – Gratitude
A feel good album for those chilled or, hung-over days. An emo album, that separates itself from the rest by its clean sound. Another successful side project by Jonah, a vital voice in laying the brick work for the emo movement as a whole. The right amount of layered sound to give it depth, without over-complicating and washing out the sound completely!-which I find a common error for most emo bands. The lyrics are about day-to-day life, getting by and moving on. Positive enough for you not to want to slit your wrists after the first 5 tracks!~which is always a bonus. A balanced mix of fast and slow tempo songs. This album will easily hold your attention for the full generous 12 tracks.
Shout Out Louds – Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Retro-rock from Sweden, donned by a few out-of-the-ordinary sounds. Strong guitar, strong baseline, keyboard under currents and …tambourines? Great harmonising. Good balance of female and male vocals. Love at first listen. Lyrics to melt your heart and, rhythm to get those feet moving without you realising. This band might not be the most popular, they may be new, but they have a formed unique sound. With only a few singles paving the way to this full length, they have done a splendid job. No track is the same, they are all different. A pure gem! www.shoutoutlouds.com
A.F.I. – Sing The Sorrow
Strangely enough this is one of their few albums which was not released by Nitro. Screaming haunting lyrics, with a raw energetic voice this album will stay with you long after you hear it. It is poetic, melodic and passionate. This band is deeply talented and this is one of their best albums. It is a cult classic that is pivotal in any collection. You can always go back to it, listen to it and love every moment. Every time I play this album, I’m 150% stoked I have it in my collection. If you had to choose 1 A.F.I album to take onto a desert island, then you can’t go wrong with this one. Also worth a mention are the bonus tracks you get on the UK edition! www.afireinside.net
Depeche Mode – Playing the Angel
One hell of an album to make a comeback on! More rock than electro pop this time round. Depeche Mode have a trademark sound, which gets rustled up by fog horns and sirens. The album has a monochrome quality. Some tracks come across a little dancy, or industrial which they pull off without selling out. While some bands would sound disastrous trying to pull it off, Depeche Mode encompass it into their new sound flawlessly. Refreshingly different without losing the appeal we love them for. Their tour in April is bound to be a winner!
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