Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Live Review: Bullet For My Valentine w/ Killswitch Engage & Cane Hill @ Newport Centre - 24/11//16

An endless line outside the Newport Centre on this rather chilly evening is an encouraging sight to behold. The anticipation can almost be plucked out from the crisp air as the Welsh city prepares for a night of unbridled heaviness without equal.

Not many are exactly thrilled at the sight of the New Orleans nu metallers Cane Hill [5/10]. The Louisiana based quartet slog through their brand of heavily Korn influenced riffs with little enthusiasm shown from their audience. Frontman Elijah Witt is a little uninspiring with his childish comments while drummer Devin Clark comes off a little sloppy. With little to no remarkable features to this band, they’ve done surprisingly well to promote their 2016 release Smile. However, the road is a long one if they wish to gain a bit more credibility as an on stage tour de force in the future.

Facebook: /wearecanehill
Twitter: @Cane_Hill

Killswitch Engage [9/10] make light work of the openers and show Newport how it’s done. The metalcore veterans are truly one of the diamond acts of our generation. To see Jesse Leach at the microphone again still shoots chills down the spine as the fanboy, wide-eyed fifteen-year-old inside everyone in the venue screams to the ceiling in euphoria. Riding full force off their latest record Incarnate, set opener "Alone I Stand" sends a clear message to the mosh pit to get fucking spinning, sharpish!

While the new material in their arsenal of destruction fuel the pits, they manage to cover all the bases from their back catalogue and holy shit do they go down a storm. Pulverised by the sheer heaviness of "This Fire Burns" and "Hate By Design", not a single vocal cord on the floor stays silent as "My Last Serenade" hits everyone in the forehead, blowing brain matter all over the floor. The unqualified banter of guitarist Adam D. is a sight to behold that has the crowd in stitches. Citing the two circle pits as a heavily set pair of testicles as well as showing his appreciation of beer and women with low, low standards is all part of the Killswitch charm that we’ve grown to love over the years.

Recognising the location, Leach proudly parades the Welsh flag that results in an overwhelming cheer. A nice touch to an unparalleled set that concludes with the immortal anthems "The End Of Heartache", "My Curse" and newcomer "Strength Of The Mind", rounding off an arguably perfect performance. After 17 years, no one does it better.

Facebook: /killswitchengage
Twitter: @kseofficial

Any other band would have a hard time matching such a defining act, but Bullet For My Valentine [9/10] aren’t just any band. What a freight train is to a watermelon, opening track "No Way Out" is to the skull. Exploding onto the stage with generous amount of pyrotechnics, the Bullet boys are dressed up to the nines, shirts, ties and all. With white-hot ferocity, thunderous down-tuned riffery and fingers like the Millennium Falcon in a rush to beat traffic, frontman Matt Tuck with fellow shredder Michael ‘Padge’ Paget have solidly become a staple of twenty-first century metal. Having relentlessly toured their 2015 release Venom, it becomes clear how far this band have come and how much the road has matured them as musicians. With their fans tightly in their grip, the non-stop barrage of classic headbangers come thick and fast. Breathing no longer becomes an option as chorus after epic chorus leave throats dry and begging for more. With notable mention to Jason Bowld who’s still sitting in for drummer Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas, he manages to put his little spin here and there that adds some spice to the set.

After producing an industrious amount of adrenaline, the waterworks are pushed to their limits as ultimate feel-jerker "Hearts Burst Into Fire" makes its way back into the fold after years of being left on the shelf. Having been the location for the song’s music video, Newport is pushed to its emotional limits that leaves no soul untouched. Delving into old territory with the likes of "4 Words (To Choke Upon)" and "Hand Of Blood", the night concludes with not one, but a double encore. Wrapping up with the brand new stormer "Don’t Need You" is a bold decision, but ultimately pays off. Though selected dates of the tour will see the four-piece play their masterpiece The Poison in its entirety, by the looks on the faces tonight, not a single fuck has or will be given about it.

Facebook: /BulletForMyValentine
Twitter: @bfmvofficial

Album Review: In Flames - 'Battles'

Anyone who follows heavy music will be familiar with 'scenes'...and one that's firmly been embedded in metal's culture and heritage is the Gothenburg scene. Yes this area of Sweden has produced some of the finest alternative metal artists to bless and/or blast our ear drums over the past twenty years or so, such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, but one of the biggest and consistent acts to come out of it all is In Flames. Still going strong in 2016 we find them releasing their twelfth studio album; "Battles"...after the somewhat disappointingly tepid "Siren Charms", are In Flames fired up for this one? Let's get stuck in...

We Open up with "Drained" and really I hope this isn't a literal message from the band because if they can't be arsed from the get-go then this isn't going to go very well...luckily however, after an almost despairing intro with vocalist Anders Fridén declaring "what we had we threw away"...we're greeted with the bands familiar riff-work and core guitar sound that we've all come to recognise. It's got some crunch, but for the most part this is very easy on the ears, it's rich in melody, the guitar solo is slick and over all it's so very, smooth...

The same can be said about "The End", and while Anders' voice has it's trademark distinctive snarl, there is a lot of emphasis on his clean vocals this time around and there's even use of a choir dotted throughout the chorus here and in other tracks too and, here it becomes pretty clear that, we're not going to be getting the frenetic bludgeoning In Flames of old...album highlight "The Truth" is an incredibly catchy track; utilising synthesizers to great effect, blending subtle electronic elements effortlessly with their alternative metal sound. "Before I Fall", despite being a pleasant listen generally, sounds so...casual, while the title track in just short of three minutes, manages to sound as threatening as a bowl of jelly. Battles? A pillow fight perhaps...before the seven-minute "Wallflower" takes you on a decidedly mellow journey towards the end of the album.

First of all, don't get the wrong idea; "Battles" isn't a bad album by any means, there are some good songs on offer here, but this is where it may turn heads, or at least tilt heads in this album, for want of a better description is a very well produced sounds incredibly polished and there is such little aggression here, old fans may be left feeling disappointed, but, it is a very accessible album and more importantly a very easy listen. In many ways its reminiscent in principle of Korn's "See You On The Other Side" which was produced by the studio team behind Shakira and Britney Spears...and you take from that what you will... [7]

Live Review: Dance Gavin Dance w/ Good Tiger, Jonny Craig & Kurt Travis @ The Globe Cardiff - 14/11/16

Sacramento screamo outfit, Dance Gavin Dance, celebrate 10-years of kicking ass by paying Cardiff’s The Globe a visit on what is the sixth date on their European and UK tour. As well as riding the wave of their jaw-dropping new album, Mothership, which was released last month, the band have something quite special planned for this tour.

As people start to gather themselves on the venue floor, ex-DGD singer Kurt Travis [3] begins with a solo set that has very little to do with your typical DGD show, as he rightfully points out, getting a sympathetic chuckle from the crowd. For what was expected to be a night full of wall-bouncing energy, the empathetic tones of Travis is met with questionable looks with his audience, who are engaging more in conversation than on the music. By the halfway mark of his performance there is very little interest about what is happening on stage. A little cheer goes out for his cover of Strawberry Swisher, but in this uninspiring display of two-dimensional, pseudo-acoustic filler, things could only get better.

Facebook: /kurttravismusic
Twitter: @kurttravis

Drilling home the point that this is indeed an anniversary show, who should come to the stage but Kurt Travis (again) with other former DGD and currant Slaves (US) vocalist Jonny Craig [5]. We tip our hat to the boys, this is obviously not an easy situation to come to terms with. Considering they had either left or were kicked out of the headline act, this move is bold enough to redeem this duet. It goes without saying that Craig’s voice is spectacular, there’s no escaping it. All that was missing was Sharon, Simon and Cheryl sitting on the top balcony to complete the picture that Craig’s powerhouse vocal acrobatics were painting. However, there is very little added in terms of creativity following Travis’s previous set, ultimately failing to shunt this show forward.

Facebook: /jonnycraigmusic
Twitter: @jonnycraig4L

A little more relevant are Good Tiger [6], who realistically should have been the ones to kick things off this evening. Drums by this point are a sight for sore eyes, as the five-piece delight us with their brand of math-pop punk that is both quirky and melodic. They manage to get the rather dulled out venue up and running with a few heads bobbing across the crowd. Ex-Tesseract vocalist Elliot Coleman nails his performance and is bursting with charisma, that unfortunately some of his bandmates don’t seem to share. 

Facebook: /GoodTigerOfficial
Twitter: @GoodTiger

Dance Gavin Dance [5] come crashing onto the stage, pumping the atmosphere with their signature hard pelting melodic hooks, soaring vocal lines provided by current singer Tilian Pearson with Jon Mess on shouting duty. "Chucky Vs The Giant Tortoise" is welcomed with open arms as an actual mosh pit begins to form. However, after a few songs the band decided to take their tour down memory lane even further by switching out newcomer Pearson with, (you guessed it) Kurt Travis. By this point, the novelty of bringing back familiar faces has totally run its course. For long-time fans, DGD were an Iron Man short of a full-on epic assembly of avengers, though the same enthusiasm can’t be said for the casual spectator tonight. Predictably, when Travis was done, it was Craig’s turn at the microphone. If both opening slots were taken by supporting bands outside the DGD social circle, this would have at least given the Californians a bit more credibility for their experiment.

With as many substitutions as a champions league final in the 89th minute, everything about this evening seemed like a missed opportunity. Musically speaking, everyone is on point from a technical stand point, but it is simply overshadowed by what is essentially a diplomatic move that benefits the band, and only the band. Pearson, who arguably should have taken front and centre tonight, finally makes it back on stage, just in time for the all-out encore featuring the whole line-up, which draws this evening to a disappointing close.

The unshakable notion that DGD clearly value their own past more than investing in their future is a very risky and arrogant move. Given that Mothership is one hell of a strong album, it seems their egos got the better of them. Only playing two tracks off said album, it will be a while before fans are treated to the blistering likes of "Flossie Dickey Bounce" or "Philosopher King", which is a massive shame. On the one hand, they’re obviously appealing to their older fans in this setting, but simultaneously alienating newcomers, which could potentially hurt them big time in the long run.

Facebook: /DanceGavinDance
Twitter: @DGDtheband

Review: The Sore Losers 'Skydogs'

‘Blood Moon Shining’ begins with a hypnotic melody and authentic rock vocals by Jan Straetemans. The lyrics are simple but full of nostalgia from the true rock era, 1969.

‘Got it bad’ is made up of four short versus and a catchy chorus. This track is another nod to classic rock but is also infused with blues. The guitar solo is short but explosive.
The guitar solo in ‘Cherry Cherry’ will blow your mind. It truly is a beauty to behold. This fast-paced track is energetic and catchy.

‘Can’t you see me running’ begins with a funk undertone and lyrical pronunciation similar to that of ‘The Raconteurs’, who the band has been likened to before. A mesmerizing guitar solo breaks out near the end of the song and lasts for around 30 seconds, just long enough to transport you from your mundane surroundings into an orgasmic guitar fantasy.

Unlike the other tracks ‘Emily’ starts with simple percussion and picks up with drums.  The vocals and harmonies are captivating. The echo effect that has been used coincides with the lyrics and compliments the overall sound.

The vocals in ‘Dirty Little Pretty Things’ are overpowered by the effect that has been used, which unfortunately has made is indistinguishable. The entire track sounds loud and messy.

‘All I am’ takes it down a notch and shows a different side to the album. It’s easy to imagine, lying on your bed, after a sore breakup with this track playing in the background through a record player.

‘Nightcrawler’ is quite underwhelming as it sounds a little too similar to some of the other tracks. However, the lyrics are catchy and the instrumental is a welcoming break before the tempo picks up again, towards the end.

Unfortunately, the lyrics in ‘Don’t Want It Here’ are lost behind the instruments, similarly to ‘Dirty Little Pretty Things’ in that the track appears messier than the others with overpowering effects.
The chorus in ‘White Whale’ is intriguingly beautiful, as is the guitar solo which takes place around three quarters of the way through the song.

The standout tracks are situated at the beginning of the album. Unfortunately, the songs from the middle to the end are mediocre at best. However, that’s somewhat easy to overlook when the band is delivering music that is inspired by authentic rock and roll.

Review by Gemz Ali

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Single Review: Modern Comforts 'Easy Tiger'

Up and coming alt rock band from the Midlands; Modern Comforts release their brand new single on the 3rd of December titled, Easy Tiger. Luckily for us we got an early listen to see exactly what's on the cards!

With prominent influences from the likes of the: Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian shining through, the band holds a genuine, raw, rock and roll sound - something quite refreshing in today's techno impacted music scene. Possessing simple yet efficacious instrumental values, Easy Tiger embraces thick and powerful guitar riffs, as well as sharp drum beats to pull the track firmly together. Vocalist, Connor Curran brings a sense of nostalgia to their music, resembling acts from the late 80's through to the early 2000's with his exaggerated, slurred lyrics. Reminiscent of artists such as Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols) mixed with Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), his vocals are vigorous and full of attitude, catapulting the track forward with an old Brit pop, English punk vibe.

Easy Tiger is a track that is difficult to not be taken away by, as it brings aspects back from old school rock and roll that can only be admired, some of which can be lacking in todays alternative music scene. The direction the band are taking with this song is evidently clear and is an extremely compelling single. An overall  impressive track by the quartet who's future is incredibly exciting.

Review by Josh Bates

Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club