Monday, 30 July 2012

Review: Mark Tremonti - All I Was

 When viewing the kind of hateful remarks the people of the internet love to spread about the multi-platinum selling christian rockers, I always view it as a positive thing that it was through listening to Alter Bridge where I discovered the guitar skills of Mark Tremonti as opposed to Creed. I honestly don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything good about Creed and it certainly hasn't encouraged me to dig deep into their back catalogue, but the gripping songwriting and passion that goes into Alter Bridge makes them a band that I would accept with open arms any day. But none of this really has any relation at all to what this album is. Not even the hardest of Alter Bridge's moments could prepare me for Tremonti's first solo outing on All I Was.

 Basically, how it works is that the influences of Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy stretches into dustier, classier blues rock territory, which allows him to record music with Slash and perform Guns N' Roses covers onstage, which is fair enough. His voice has earned him every right. Tremonti on the other hand, clearly spends a lot of time offstage going through Metallica and Anthrax records, as well as maybe making some time for a playing of Killswitch Engage's The End of Heartache.

Such notions can be hinted at purely at the force alone of So You're Afraid, a song that takes adrenaline pumped thrash licks, juxtaposed by sweeping melodies and hooks that allow slabs of riffage to crush into place like falling stones, colliding upon the deep grounds of earth, with Tremonti's solos only serving as the subsequent lightning storms that serve total punishment. It's epic.

 Without letting reminders of past musical ventures get too in the way of the listening experience, it's near mind-boggling to think a performance as thunderous and all-out metal could have come from the guitarist of Creed, or even Alter Bridge. Who knows what the thinking behind this was. You have to think that maybe after performing to sold out stadiums the world over with swaying ballads and tender melodic belters of songs, Tremonti just wanted music to play that would start moshpits. And he makes it possible in every way. The monstrous chugging of Wish You Well and breakdowns of Giving Up would definitely give the likes of Five Finger Death Punch or All That Remains a run for their money in terms of pit sizes were they all to appear at a certain Donnington based festival, while the more frantic melodies of Brains and You Waste Your Time reveal further influences from all kinds of metal bands from Iron Maiden to Dio-era Black Sabbath to Volbeat.

 However, the blues roots of Alter Bridge haven't entirely faded away. As the mellower array of echoey guitar notes that make of the ghostly The Things I've Seen stir into action, listeners are fully allowed to identify just how powerful Tremonti's  vocal performance is, which gives the song a dustier touch of blues-ridden wisdom above all else. Certainly, above all its riff-a-thons, All I Was still upholds a certain tenderness.

 My total admiration for Alter Bridge doesn't make this statement an easy one, but listening to All I Was is almost definitely more of a blast than Blackbird and AB III combined. After hearing the total extent of Mark Tremonti's metal influence come out in a way that allows him to keep his creation of powerful melodies, solid hooks and an earthly layer of blues undertones intact, the music of Alter Bridge just seems so much smaller in comparison. Maybe somewhere within me I hate this album because it does that to Alter Bridge, but let's admit, having played second fiddle in both bands he's been in, Tremonti's chance to shine puts his previous bands to shame. Too bad we've only worked it out now.






Mark Tremonti's All I Was is out now via FRET12.

Review: Feed the Rhino - The Burning Sons

 It's difficult to imagine trying to be told about the great new bands on the UK hardcore scene today without coming across some mention of Feed the Rhino. Having served as a force to be reckoned with within the underground scene in Kent, they really came into prominence with 2010's Mr Red Eye. So, now with a more mainstream following, the band may have taken the chance to give their sound a more commercial element to attract a wider following. Or, they could beef up their sound to make it their strongest yet. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

 What we hear on The Burning Sons is the sound of a band looking to bring upon the world of the lesser-knowledgeable the sound that really sums up what hardcore is all about. And in the case of Feed the Rhino, it's all about bringing the pain in the most monstrous, most exhilarating and most frightful way imaginable.

 Every action from guitarists James and Sam Colley feels similar to being whacked across the face with the nail embedded mallet, and I can only hope that imagery conveys how brutal they manage to be. The earthly tones of Nothing Lost and Song of Failure both manage to give listeners are real inspection into the layers of dirt, blood and naturally conjured heaviness that makes up all that which the band strive for musically.

 This is only aided by the juggernaut vocal performance of their underground icon of a frontman Lee Tobin, whose crushing vocals sound like the missing link between Keith Morris and Barney Greenway. With a voice and a set of lyrics fueled by total rage and nihilism, there's little forgiveness to find in his path. 

 Yet, despite this array of whirlwind and breakdowns built out of pure steel, there is some kind of melodic expansion. The band have always said that in some way they are a straight out rock and roll band and in the likes of Flood the System and Death of the Swine the driving guitar lines and thrashing basslines of Oz Craggs, there is definitely a more traditional musical influence that can be picked up upon. The melodic moment really comes out on Razor, a bleak ballad laden with themes of doom, which goes on to prove that Tobin actually has a fairly gripping singing voice.

 So, Feed the Rhino prove with The Burning Sons that they do have some room for expansion, while managing to hold on to the traditional hardcore blasting with which they've made their name so far. And with this mixture of melodies and brutality, it's highly likely that they're going to be picking up a lot of new fans over the coming months. Soon being told about them as a great band on the UK hardcore scene will be unavoidable. They'll be topping everyone's list.






Feed the Rhino's The Burning Sons is out now via In at the Deep End. The band will play at Hevy Fest at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park on 4th August and will tour the UK in October with Gallows and Brotherhood of the Lake.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Review: For the Fallen Dreams - Wasted Youth

 I can't help but worry a little when I look upon the album artwork of Wasted Youth, the fourth effort from constantly rising metalcore icons For the Fallen Dreams and note the inclusion of people drinking from shot glasses. That spells out the foundation for a great night out for seventeen year old me, rather than an image of wasting life. Maybe I'm just a terrible human being that will grow up to be a bitter regretful old man whose liver is hanging on by a thread. Either way, the album Wasted Youth has seen For the Fallen Dreams, a band who have always been fairly underrated in the grand scale on the new wave of American metalcore bands but a lasting longevity, has seen them go a little down the A Day to Remember path in roping in a little more pop punk for their musical style. And overall, their choice has taken away the quality that has made their previous work shine.

 Listening to this album is a little bit like audibly witnessing a band run out of ideas. Having listened to some tracks from last year's Back Burner before stepping into this album, it's quite shocking to see how fast a band's quality can fall. A high level of repetitiveness exists on this album. As Hollow opens with a crunching display of chugging breakdowns that last until some clean-vocal led melodies are required for a chorus, you can almost immediately tell that the overall style of the album isn't going to distance itself far from this style.

 There's a sad truth to many an opening thought as the next selection of tracks follow the same formula with such insipidity and such little impact that you're left thinking you might just have more fun sitting through Staind's discography. The band are meant to be finding their pop punk boots and pop punk is a genre that so much can be done with, especially when considering the ADTR comparison and influence they're trying to display, so it's extremely underwhelming to see that such a formulaic root is followed.

 Sometimes they make it work and you really manage to connect with the high charged riffage and desire to become part of a moshpit. The adrenaline packed riffage of Kalan Blehm on Until It Runs Out and When Push Comes to Shove and the grand pop punk hooks that open Always About you prove to be album highlights.

 But for the most part, the album feels completely devoid of any factors that makes listening to it feel like a solid proposition. Living a Lie drones on without any display of energy or enthusiasm, while Please Don't Hurt really lets frontman Dylan Ritcher let his inner Morrisey and puts on the most whiny performance possible that feels like a total drag and really turns listening to their songs into a chore, particularly on the short and shocking Waking Up Alone where, well, he can't sing to save himself.

 So, with high hopes for an album that could have been a breezing display of charged metalcore breakdowns that left a real impact on listeners, we instead find For the Fallen Dreams to be making minimal efforts on Wasted Youth, adding in a pop punk sound just to tap into the A Day to Remember fanbase. The songs are dull and uninspired and the amount of whinging emo stereotypes packed into Ritcher's performance and his lyrics feel like a parody of other metalcore bands. Go and listen to Relentless and Back Burner for stronger material from For the Fallen Dreams. This album feels like a waste of my youth. Now, I'll take my shot glasses and go.






For the Fallen Dreams' Wasted Youth is out now via Artery Recordings. The band will tour the UK in October on the Impericon Never Say Die! Tour with We Came As Romans, Blessthefall, Stick to Your Guns, Obey the Brave, At the Skylines, The Browning and At Dawn We Rage.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Review: The Cast of Cheers - Family

 The Cast of Cheers, eh? It's a hell of a band name. I can just see myself now trying to convince my Dad that their album isn't Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley and Woody Harrelson singing along to a selection of jukebox songs and getting nowhere. Anyway, the Dublin quartet made a name for themselves in 2010 on their debut Chariot, an effort that defied the still-fairly common perception that mixing indie rock with synthesizer backdrops and an overriding sense of weirdness didn't necessarily mean that your music had to dwindle along at a rate and feature an over-usage of electronics that made trying to listen to it painful. Friendly Fires are a terrible band. No, TCOC hit the nail right on the head, with the perfect mixture of riffs and synth usage that was delivered with a punk tinged urgency. It was definitely a sign of a promising start.

 Now that the band have followed up on Chariot with their sophomore effort Family, on their first label, their is in honesty not much in the way of major development upon their minimalist indie rock but it is a style that allows for a lot of differing songwriting and arrangement to be executed, proving that they still manage to create a breath of fresh air throughout their course.

 The other notion that the band manage to prove throughout the album is that less does manage to be more. We've all become used to hearing bands whose only method of introducing hooks into their songs is by making the riffs louder, but with TCOC, creating hooks is all down to the steel-plated songwriting of frontman Conor Adams who brings the album straight to life from the opening of the title track, an array of dreamily arranged guitar and drum tapping brought to life by Adams' punk-induced urgency in his vocal performance.

 However on tracks like this, Animals and Trucks at Night, the melodic songwriting is truly key in bringing the most life into the compositions. With these subtly massive hooks, they manage to pack a punch to listeners to the extent that an impact is made without such notion even being noticed upon the first time. Even with just the introduction of a simple riff or synthesizer backdrop, during the chorus, the songs become absolutely thrilling. This notion is seen effortlessly on Human Elevator and Goose with it's frizzy riffing, which only up the frantic punk energy conveyed in Adams' performance.

 Because an overriding amount of delicacy remains within the songs, intricate details can be pointed out amongst the hook laden madness that makes it more enjoyable. I've never been able to comment on the awesomeness of backing vocals before but the chants of the tracks title that surround the melodies of Marso Sava have an impenetrable coolness that would have to be clearly put on display, otherwise it would be a massive waste.

 With all areas of writing a song fully focused on in order to create a performance as passionate, immersive and bright shining as possible, Family reveals itself as a triumph of alternative rock songwriting. With equal amounts of emphasis put on guitar hooks, danceable basslines and drum patterns and a vocal performance that grabs listeners by the throat, The Cast of Cheers have made their mark on the alt rock scene at an early stage. If they go on with this standard, who knows, maybe they'll become big enough that all first page Google results will be all about them and their music with no sign of IMDb or tribute sites to 80's sitcoms anywhere.






The Cast of Cheers' Family is out now via School Boy Error. The band will perform at Y Not Festival in Matlock on 4th August and will perform at Reading & Leeds festival on 24th and 26th August.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Review: Bury Tomorrow - The Union of Crowns

 It isn't surprising that some people have come to the final judgement that "intelligent" and "metalcore" can't appear in the same sentence. Acts like Suicide Silence (as fun as they are) Emmure and Annotations of An Autopsy have become successful by taking the real skill out of the genre which has implied the notion in metalcore that how talented you are is measured only by how "br00t4l" your breakdowns are, which in various cases don't even sound that heavy, and then become respected because they start massive circle pits whenever they play live. It doesn't require much thought.

 It seems unfair then for Hampshire quintet Bury Tomorrow to be lumped in with this lot because musically, they stand on a much higher ground than all these bands combined. For proof, just inspect the strength of their second album The Union of Crowns, an album which frontman Daniel Winter-Bates essentially displayed his sense of dislike-ness for the kind of bands mentioned above and promised that his band had something much better on offer. Right he was.

 With tracks like A Message to the King, An Honourable Reign and Abdication of Power making use of regal metaphors to relate with personal events, Bury Tomorrow aren't afraid to take their songwriting into deeper and more conceptual levels than fellow bands. Well, Emmure did that video game themed album, but I'll take this any day.

 But with their musical promise to set themselves apart from their peers by being heavier on record rather than just live is the total highlight of The Union of Crowns. And even within this lies their greater mindset for crafting songs. The band prove without any difficulty that when it comes to making straight out brutality on their songs, they can put their fellow bands to shame. Knight Life and Sceptres pounce to life with electrifying breakdowns injected by venomous fury and deathly venom through the monstrous growling of Bates and the riff-storm that rhythm guitarist Jason Cameron conjures up.

 But there's so much more to Bury Tomorrow than that, particularly where the more melodic element of their music and Cameron's clean vocal duties are unleashed, particularly on the likes of Lionheart and 1603, at that point, the emotional output is just as heavy as the ongoing guitar chugging. Cameron's vocals are almost indescribable in how amazing they are and will in time serve as a factor to make Bury Tomorrow leaders of metalcore everywhere. The actual effort made in the use of lead guitar from Mehdi Vismara, who provides the highlight to album closer A Curse by giving us the best guitar solo of 2012. However, his echoey lead work throughout the album gives it that extra layer of atmospheric grace.

 As much as I love a lot of metalcore artists that have made it big in recent times, the performance on The Union of Crowns puts every other band to shame. With a sound that is more atmospheric, more immersive and more crushingly heavy than any other band suing only guitars drums and vocals, Bury Tomorrow prove they can deliver something stronger than any band with  keyboards and auto-tuned vocals, especially when compared to the vocal talents of Daniel Winter-Bates and Jason Cameron. Along with While She Sleeps, Bury Tomorrow are going to become new leaders of metalcore and will have a standards that will be hard to match.






Bury Tomorrow's The Union of Crowns is out now via Nuclear Blast. The band will perform at Burnout Festival at The George Inn, Andover on 28th July, Hevy Music Festival at Port Lympne Wild Animal Parkon 4th August, Vans Warped Tour at Alexandra Palace, London on 10th November and will tour the UK in November with Architects, Deez Nuts and The Acacia Strain.

Review: The King Blues - Long Live the Struggle

2011 photo of the band 'cos they're split.
Couldn't even tell you if this was the
final band lineup.
 Since I spent last night banging on about the still sad split of Fei Comodo, I figure it's long overdue that I take time to talk about the unexpected split of London punks The King Blues in April. Last year, the eclectic musical group were at the top of their game, having finally found a massive following with whom they rocked, danced and lyrically informed with the overtly political messages of frontman Jonny "Itch" Fox thanks to the release of the beautifully diverse Punk & Poetry. Without a doubt, 2011 saw The King Blues become everyone's favourite underdog heroes.




 It's little wonder that everyone was so stunned when they split up some months ago and it seems that there is some ongoing argument as to what sparked the split besides Itch's simple explanation that his passion faded away, however the amounts of inner turmoil and tension within the band due to various unexplained events suggests otherwise as well as takes away much respect that fans had of the band. Either way, it has left us listeners with the posthumous fourth album Long Live the Struggle, which serves as a grand  final chapter for a band that will go down as underdog heroes in the realm of British punk rock.


 Long Live the Struggle shows that The King Blues were very much a band that were filled with new ideas and unique ways of presenting their music so that no two songs sound the same yet had a distinct identity to those that were creating it. It's identified across Long Live the Struggle as we're taken through delicate acoustic led melodies, thumping dub beats, hook filled punk rock which shows as much of a pop punk influence as it does from fully fledged hardcore groups and even a touch of emotional balladry, all of which sums up a life of growing up in London amongst social and political breakdown as individuals that the Government like to look down upon and leave to rot away while ridiculous amounts of money are spent on things which are unlikely to have any lasting impact or live up to any great promise. Hey, the Olympics start tonight!


 It's because of the extent of the realism that The King Blues dealt with, that when Itch yells out "If you ain't angry, you ain't paying attention!" about the Government on We Are What We Own that it becomes more potent and memorable material than a lot of currently rising British rock bands that sing about failed relationships using maritime metaphors. (Nah, I'm not gonna insult Lower Than Atlantis. They're... fine. Sometimes.) Even when failed relationships are an issue within the album on Wasted Words, it's delivered with more realism than most other bands with female led choruses and a reminiscence of more R n' B material. Akin to a lot of crappy radio R n' B, it is of a sort dome in a more thoughtful, realistic and tragic manner, particularly if personal reasons are attached. But let's not focus on that.


 The most realistic moment of the album comes on This is My Home, which almost a year since the London Riots effectively presents the again realistic notion of being in a London community at the time. With the song essentially consisting of Itch's acted out phone call following more R n' B inflicted choruses, it can either be viewed as dull, tragic or ironic. With the radio-friendly pop choruses spewing out lines like "What you thinking, little bastards!" and "It's four in the morning, I'm bloody tired!" there's little chance that you'd hear it properly on radio. I believes serves as a song that delivers some dark humour without even trying.


 The more exciting moments of the album are the heavier and frantic moments that try and live up tot he heights of Punk & Poetry. Can't Bring Me Down thunders into life and lights up with Itch's furious rapping skills and choruses fueled by dubstep and the deluded screams of letlive.'s Jason Butler, the second best song he's been heard on since he did guest vocals for Your Demise. And it's still better than anything he's done in ,letlive.


 Alongside this, it's a welcome sound to (briefly) hear the vocals of ska-punk hero Tim Armstrong on Booted Out of Hell. Maybe I'm just really eager for Rancid put out some new material, so it's cool to hear him around. In honesty though, his cameo isn't really a sign of him on top form but what he gives to The King Blues is undeniably him, if not underwhelming at the same time.


 So, Long Live the Struggle appears as a strong final chapter to The King Blues' career, if not as strong as Punk & Poetry. There are a lot of strong songs that see the band display their messages with much vigor and enthusiasm but it's been done better before and in that sense, the album isn't exactly a full-on grand finale. Particularly with the R n' B influences in mind, there's little doubt as to why many were suggesting selling-out to be an issue. So, with the band being officially over, who knows what will happen next. Hints have gone around of Itch starting a solo career which he would make even more musically diverse, but I can't imagine it going down so well. Many people who have blamed him for splitting up the band aren't likely to jump on the bandwagon and I can just see people now calling him a rip-off of Plan B. But for now, we say our farewells to a band that could have gone on to be the next Clash and marvel at what could have spelled out a brighter career for them.






The King Blues' Long Live the Struggle is out now via Transmission Recordings.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Review: Fei Comodo - Behind the Bright Lights

 It's sad to witness the frequency with which great bands are splitting up in recent times. One of the more striking instances for me personally was May's announcement that the July/August UK tour from Essex rockers Fei Comodo would be their last tour and shows that they would do as a band. It's especially sad when considering their career has been spent only with the releases of EPs and it's this time now that has led up to the release of their debut full length Behind the Bright Lights. Basically, this album represents the moment the post-hardcore quintet had been waiting years for, so it feels like a massive loss for them to split now and one cannot help but think the vast amount of time in which record labels were not taking any action with releasing album's has played some cause in this. And so with this album being their big break and their final bow, the band make it their most triumphant works ever.

 Straight from the opening The Night Falls we find the band are on a no holds barred rampage launching listeners straight into a hefty dose of their characteristic display of metalcore pounding that gleams with such beauty and intensity that you'd be able to see your face in any riff. If riffs were visible.

 Indeed in terms of Fei Comodo and their continuous stream of EPs, they have built of quite a characteristic sound but with this being their final work, they have pretty much no choice but to unleash it with full force. And it's thankful that they do because the result is a display of modern metalcore that blows all it's fellow contemporaries out of the water. With an instant spike of urgency, tracks like No Way Out and A Man Left Behind offer a high level of energetic beatdowns that tear through displaying their rapid punk influence with great ease, while offering opportunities for much brutal moshing.

 More gripping are the moments of the album fueled by pure spite mainly because of the sheer extent of the total clarity with which the music comes which really makes the messages of You Peaked at Sixteen really stand out, particularly as frontman Marc Halls calls out "If you don't like my honesty, you'd better change your ways, because I've been going easy.", truly a line resembling there is a lyrical world for Fei Comodo beyond the emotionally-drenched world of concern, making tracks like this and Walk With Me so much more thrilling.

 However, Fei Comodo's main skill is the ability to produce sounds of metalcore's typically mindless brutality with a velvet coating that brings more mindfulness, grace and  an awe-inspiring emotional impact into what they do. The amount of intricate skill and melodic crafting put into The Air is Cold Tonight makes it a highly immersive and pathos evoking listen as the band ride on riffs of victorious solidity, while the acoustic led On the Road is every bit as massive sounding as any other track and provokes just as big a response. However, the triumphant passion that highlights the very best of their sound that fans have come to recognise effortlessly that closes the album on Barriers serves as an emotionally crushing and beautiful manner on which to conclude the album and on which to conclude the band.

 I've talked before about the idea of an album being so good that you hope the band doesn't record anything afterwards in case it doesn't become as good and ruins everything but it's definitely a massive shame that we'll never find out what else Fei Comodo are capable of creating. But this is definitely an album of such aforementioned quality with the most solid songs that they've ever crafted on board. I'm confident that new band Hey Vanity featuring various ex members of Fei Comodo will be able to craft something as great as their previous group but the loss of the band is definitely a big one in the world of up and coming British rock music. But with Behind the Bright Lights a long lasting impact has definitely been made. Fei Comodo are dead. Long live Fei Comodo.






Fei Comodo's Behind the Bright Lights is out now via Small Town Records. The band will tour the UK for the rest of July and will play their last ever show at Stereo, York on 1st August with Evarose, I Divide and You Cried Wolf.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Burning Love - Rotten Thing to Say

 This is an album I've been meaning to check out for some time now, following a continuously massive buzz surrounding it from all fellow rock-fans and experts from Metal Hammer. Formed in Ontario from the ashes of Our Father and Cursed, burning love have been tearing up the local punk scene with a fiery brand of sludge metal and hardcore which has already been displayed this year, turning Hawk Eyes into rockstars of considerable worth and influence. So, I dive into this excitement filled with a major sense of anticipation and delirium to find that the hype is blindingly accurate. Here we have some rock and roll served at it's most distorted.

 The follow up to 2010's Songs for Burning Lovers, Rotten Thing to Say effectively comes and goes, for lack of a better phrase to use. The songs blaze through across a thirteen track album in thirty four minutes, but of course, it just so happens to be thirty four of the finest moments you may ever hear.

 No time is wasted in their assault. Straight from the moment the infectious grooves of Southern inspired bass from Alex "Hawk" Goodall rumbles into action on the album's intro, the band are let loose into action without any holds barred. The likes of Cancer Bats, Converge and Comeback Kid have already proved successful in unleashing brutal punk albums that take a sludgier and bleaker turn and yet Burning Love are very much their own beast across this record.

 Whether they try or not you can't help but identify an extra manner of class in the group's songwriting that lights up guitar work from Pat Marshall and Andrus Merit that lights up No Love and Damage Case effortlessly. And identifying a feeling of class and real emotion isn't always easy when dealing with bands that like to kick things off in a way so tremendously rough and raucously. Even a sense of delicacy and be identified in the tones from frontman Chris Colohan on The Body.

 For the most part however, the band just deal in all out brutality. There isn't a moment of Rotten Thing to Say that isn't brought to life in a frenzy of monolithic growls from Colohan or ear shattering works of bass that often feels like being smashed over the head with a thick plank covered in splinters. In the best possible way. Every song makes you want to explode with rage and beat up your siblings, but unlike other bands that fit such descriptions there's always a freshness with each new track. A filthy freshness anyway, which is no easy task.

 It's actually a little difficult to think of any other kind of explanation for Rotten Thing to Say, save for that it's an album that is a scorcher all the way through. It takes the best of hardcore and the best of sludge and rams them together with an extra dose of distortion and certainly, if you dig your punk music with a heavier element, you're in for such a massive treat it's unreal. Truly a deserving band worthy of all the buzz if there ever was one.






Burning Love's Rotten Thing to Say is out now via Southern Lord.

Review: Serj Tankian - Harakiri

 Serj Tankian, as disparaging as it may be will be forever recognised as a solo artist that can only ever be recognised at foremost for work with a band previously. He's not the first of this kind and he certainly won't be the last. In having that position, he could be in worse terms. Rock and metal in this modern age may not have the sense of excitement, bombasticity and overall shot of weirdness had it not been for Tankian's work in fronting the legendary System of a Down, however, the fact that this is his prime position in music has always left those that listen to his solo material disappointed. It's a shame that this is the case. When one considers that a solo career is the ultimate chance for a musician to bleed out all their creativity and unique ideas that could never work on a band album, Tankian has certainly bled heavily through the likes of Elect the Dead and Imperfect Harmonies. However, third outing Harakiri is undoubtedly the boldest and most thrilling so far.

 On Harakiri, Tankian takes much more influence from classic punk bands of old with rapid-fire melodies and lyrical concerns put into a modern context to those that the likes of Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys talked about. Of course, the iconic vocal performance of Tankian makes his take on punk and hardcore music a grander, more over-the-top and occasionally operatic than traditional hardcore bands did in the 80's. This is captured straight from the drastic opening of Cornucopia, which amongst it's scuzzy riff-fests and massive choruses, captures the true variation of messages and emotion Tankian wants to package within the album. As the song opens with Tankian speaking of a woman, stating "I loved you in the sunshine", we soon find Tankian yelling out "We fuck the earth and don't know why it cries". This sense of lyrical variation is key in displaying the unpredictability of Serj Tankian.

 The main content of the album  effortlessly proves itself to be an emotionally protest album, covering Tankian's disgrace towards ignorance of major world issues on Deafening Silence and Occupied Tears, the removal of personal freedom through war and materialism on Figure it Out and even the state of our culture, through the tones of concern and observational disgust on Reality TV, all of which really highlights the entire theme of the album regarding suicide, in the form of suicide to civilization brought around by our own actions and choices in life. Yes it will cause you to feel guilty and take a look at your life.

 And this will particularly be the effect when hearing the message of the lyrics picked up by the irresistible, adaptable vocals of Tankian. The sense of beauty-come-tragedy on Butterfly heightens the song's message of loss, while Forget Me Knot presents a similar view through an unsettling buildup of soothing piano-laden backdrops. Meanwhile the glorious feel of the deranged that helped Make System of a Down so unique can be heard across the likes of Uneducated Democracy. Furthermore, the sense of musical and rhythmic variation across Harakiri makes the album an even more immersive offer, as Ching Chime makes use of bouncing hip-hop rythyms while at the same time creating a main riff led by banjos. From fiery metallic drumming, to backdrops created by pop-friendly synthesizers and human beat-boxing, there's a selection of everything musically to be found.

 And with the thought of everything, Harakiri is most effectively summed up. Tankian's wide range of musical diversity and lyrical messages, which always manage to be thought provoking makes Harakiri his boldest effort to date. Looking back on it, it's a little bit of a shame that he's recognized solely for System of a Down. Not that it's a bad thing or anything, but there is definitely moments in his solo work that are miles away from SOAD that fans of that band could never get their heads around. However, with an effort that has clearly had much thought and soulful wonder put into it, Serj Tankian proves that his solo work is every bit as relevant as his work as a band frontman.






Serj Tankian's Harakiri is out now via Reprise/Serjical Strike. Tankian will tour the UK in October.

 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Review: The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

 Sometimes it's one song that has the ability to change the game for a band and put them into a higher profile and recognition than ever before. You may have recently noticed this to be the case for New Jersey punks The Gaslight Anthem, who despite being legends back home in NJ and have found a place in the hearts of many in-depth rock fans with the masterpieces of The '59 Sound and American Slang, having played the main stages of Reading & Leeds Festival, Download, Hard Rock Calling and having various shows that have seen them perform onstage with fellow NJ legend Bruce Springsteen, playing their own songs. And yet, they haven't yet recognised as a proper household name until recently with the release of new song "45". And with that and the rest of their new album Handwritten, the world of in-depth rock fans are left wondering if the band can go on to become internationally recognised megastars but remain true to their punk roots at the same time?

 Well, in honesty, you may not be wrong if you said they weren't as punk as previous stages of the band's career pointed them out to be and the likes of The '59 Sound have displayed an extra spike and rush of adrenaline in their music. Indeed, there is some truth that in musical terms it's not as big a punk album as previous efforts. However, if you choose to deny Handwritten a chance to shine on these grounds alone, you are a damn fool.

 It's been a while since we were treated to a display of pure homegrown rock and roll played with roughened riffs and steel-plated melodies that has come with the ability to put world-loving smiles on faces and tears in eyes of every listener. There's no denying that the band haven't already been able to pen incredible works of musical masterpieces in the past but the level to which they achieve it moves to a whole new level.

 Whether you are elevated to a higher sense of rock and roll ecstasy and euphoria with the energetic swing of "45" and the elder-sounding yet energetic title track or feel tempted to headbang to the likes of Mulholland Drive and Too Much Blood which prove that their punk tendencies still exist or just get down and dance to the massive hooks and grin-inducing fun provided by Howl, you're never far from a moment that won't make you feel surrounded by an overwhelming feeling of love, joy and good times past and good times to come.

 Even in the less riled-up moments, such as the tenderly written riffs of Brian Fallon and Alex Rosamilia on Biloxi and Desire revealing the guitarists' more subtle and intimate approach to what they do, as well as the eye-opening acoustic charm of National Anthem you can still get completely immersed within the high levels of emotion the band crave into their work. And even in the more adrenaline packed moments, you're never to far from identifying moments of total beauty and grace mixed with a passion for rock and roll that The Gaslight Anthem are so capable of conjuring up.

 It goes without saying that much of this visible beauty can be credited to Fallon, a truly underrated modern rock icon and possessor of possibly one of the finest voices around today. With his battered up vocals, poetic lyrics of life, love and the desire for music, and his tones of joy, melancholy and desire to create a sense of urgency can be identified with absolute clarity, which creates the perfect response of understanding from listeners, he presents himself as a musician to inspire a generation of musicians that want to make an impact in the world of rock and punk music, without even trying.

 When rock music is meant to be the kind of music that gathers large crowds to lose themselves in a state of total bliss that makes them lose all worries in life and get down to the beauty of music with one another, The Gaslight Anthem have hit the nail on the head with Handwritten. Perhaps it's not got the punk induced spike as such and perhaps their greater appearances on daytime radio and ability to headline massive venues will make the true punk enthusiasts label them as sellouts, but The Gaslight Anthem rise to their position as big players on the rock and roll landscape with the kind of grace and ability to charm and cause urges to headbang in audiences that has made the Foo Fighters the biggest rock band in the world. The kind that has made Springsteen one of the most respected names in music over the past 30 years. This New Jersey quartet have come for the crown of rock and roll. And their going to make your life more wonderful while taking it.






The Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten is out now via Mercury. The band will play at Reading and Leeds Festival on 24th and 26th August and will tour the UK in October with Blood Red Shoes.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Canterbury - Heavy in the Day

 I can't help but begin to feel less-than-optimistic whenever I approach a band that has been compared strongly to You Me at Six. And I say that as a rare being of someone that really likes You Me at Six and is male at the same time. However, while I can easily get into the strong melodies and occasional melodramatics of YMAS, the fact that that band has grown a reputation of being adored by teenage girls means any band compared to them will have the same effect, only with an increase of melodrama and soppiness. It's with this sad attitude that I enter the world of Heavy in the Day, the second album from Farnham quartet Canterbury and come out feeling half relieved and half disappointed that such a musical atmosphere does exist but only in places.

 But indeed, there's a lot of moments when the soppiness is avoided completely and the strong hooks of Something Better and More Than Know show that they aren't just wanting to be all slow and lovey-dovey. And with these songs revealing an influence from You Me at Six and various other bands they've toured with in the vain of Twin Atlantic, We Are the Ocean and The Automatic, the band show that Canterbury are fully capable of making the sound that has made everyone fall in love with rock music again.

 Of course, there's more on this rock and roll front than fitting in with the vain of these other radio bothering rock bands. The levels of frantic energy and rapid-fire riffage of Saviour and Drive. Ride. Drive. show a much more kinetic side to their music that shows an influence from the best moments of the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age, proving them to be of a higher quality than being simply labelled as being a band that will just attract pop-loving teen girls could ever be.

 Of course, there are plenty of moments on Heavy in the Day that are simply made to be adored in an overly romantic lovey dovey sense. From the utter drag that opens the album on the title track, we are treated to moments that can only be described as "airy dirges." That or the kind of drenched wet balladry of Gloria and She's a Flame, as well as the stupid dance-pop of Ready Yet? which reaches little impact with any attempts of making hooks.

 So, a typically hit and miss album, Canterbury prove they have the ability to make genuine rock and roll efforts and do it extremely well, but this effort isn't captured across Heavy in the Day. Who knows, maybe my total entrancement by stoner rock, doom metal and black metal has left me feeling little sympathy towards ballads, but the kind of songwriting is so weak, there's no way it can really rustle any interest from me. But as I say, that's just me. I can only imagine those who are into the likes of You Me at Six, We Are the Ocean and various other bands that like to load their hooks with powerful emotion to have a new favourite band on their hands.






Canterbury's Heavy in the Day is out now via Sweet Lime Records. The band will play at Burn Out Festival at The George Inn, Andover on 29th July, Y Not Festival in Matlock on 3rd August, Merthyr Rock Festival on 2nd September, Butserfest 2012 at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Petersfield on 15th September, Deafbox Festival at Teh intake Club, Mansfield on 16th September, Underground Festival at Gloucester Guildhall on 30th September and will tour the UK in November with Deaf Havana.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Review: The View - Cheeky For a Reason

 When I look back at the regret-laden days of my first year of high school in Dundee in 2006, one of the biggest memories regarding music came from the mass outbreak of buzzing excitement and delirium that in the world where the charts where being dominated by "rock" (disposable indie) bands, a band from the City of Discovery had actually gone and made their mark. That band was The View and the amount of love sent towards them serves as another burning reminder of why that year was filled with regret. I was surprised enough that they band hadn't yet split up following the release of 2009's Which Bitch? but the fact that they've actually reached their fourth album is near astounding. What's more astounding is that their latest effort Cheeky For a Reason actually comes off with some merit.

 Well, when I say "some" I really do mean "some". "A wee bit". "A sprinkling of merit" if you will. Being the sucker for a decent selection of hooks and strong melodies, I can't simply overlook the likes of Anfield Row, Bullet and the foot stomping Hole In the Bed. Tracks like these come with the kind of freshness and soulful grace that you could never imagine coming from Dundee. And at the same time, an undeniable layering of charm can be found in AB (We Need Treatment) and the loving Tacky Tattoo where some level of immersion can be found in the performance of Kyle Falconer, whose voice has undeniably matured since the band first came to prominence with Hats Off to the Buskers.

 But, when the band try and use these factors as a substitute for any actual decent songwriting, there's little merit to be found elsewhere. The repetitiveness of lead single How Long manages to be more annoying than anything else, while the band's attempts to create some solid riffs and melodies on The Clock and Sour Little Sweetie simply falls flat.

 To boost upon that, the actual impact that the songs provide are little to none. It say's a lot when the track that provides the most emotional impact manages to invoke a simultaneously jolly feeling while also managing to covey tones of desolation and loss through it's shadow-like echoes, implying a desire for long-gone nostalgia and good times that changes in life take away. And that track is an eleven second song known as Piano Interlude, probably the album's best track.

 So, with the band's near instant rise to popularity being a memory from my treacherous early days of high school, I am going to try anything to make sure I hate The View. But, the truth is Cheeky For a Reason has some fairly decent moments boosted through strong melodies. But it only lasts so long and the lack of overall energy and impact, there's little reason to hold onto this album. Though it's probably the band's best album so far, The View ultimately serve as a notable fact that nothing good has really come from Dryburgh.






The View's Cheeky for a Reason is out now via Cooking Vinyl. The band will play at Kendal Calling Festival at Lowther Castle & Gardens from 27th-29th July, Y Not Festival in Matlock from 3rd-5th August, Reading & Leeds Festival from 24th-25th August and will tour the UK from August-September.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Memphis May Fire - Challenger

 Undoubtedly, Dallas metalcore fighters Memphis May Fire have seen a rising in terms of prolific notability in the past few years. Whether it's in their signing to Rise Records, or the set of heart-wrenching songs that made up last year's The Sinner, which was praised by Asking Alexandria's Danny Worsnop and had a title track system that was ripped off by Attack Attack! on January's This Means War or people getting them mixed up with the much bigger Miss May I, they're undoubtedly become much more prominent figures in the New Wave of American Melodic Metalcore. And frankly, the standard of third album Challenger justifies their current position.

 Packed with a desire to create brutality mixed with an underlying sense of passion and a desire to create enough massive hooks and sing-along moments to light up at least the main stage of any Warped Tour, Memphis May Fire find themselves sounding more focused on Challenger and more on course to make what essentially is the definitive album of this new wave of metalcore.

 As you may imagine then, this isn't really an album that comes with surprises. By the time we reach Vices, it's immediately obvious that we're never too far away from a breakdown or a sudden jolt of surprisingly effective death growls from frontman Matty Mullins. However, even with these "metalcore cliches" if you will, there's an undeniable sense of freshness to be found throughout the set of songs. Perhaps this is in the clean cut production of Cameron Mizell, whose work in such attributes as mixing riffs from Kellen McGregor and new axeman Anthony Sepe with a range of soothing electronic and dramatic orchestral backdrops makes the set of songs so much more exciting, with buildups into songs creating a greater awe to encompass the music.

 Perhaps, the overall sense of excitement and refreshment within the band that has come with changes in lineup and various other attributes has refreshed the band to create some of their most furious and energetic songs while the sparks of the songs are burning bright. Honestly, it's been a while since breakdowns in this musical context have sounded so breathtaking.

 Of course, it's not all mindless breakdowns. The band have time for more variation, which comes out most effectively on ballad Miles Away, a performance that serves as highly absorbing that calls for a massive response of empathy throughout it's course. And I even say this being aware of the guest appearance from Sleeping With Sirens' Kellin Quinn lending guest vocals. Following Quinn's appearance on Pierce the Veil's King for a Day, I would ave been totally fine with never listening to his voice again, yet on this album, it sounds so much more controlled and tolerable and genuinely does nothing to ruin the song.

 Likewise, there is little effect that comes from guest vocals from previously aforementioned Danny Worsnop on Losing Sight. While the song is perfect for Worsnop's hell scratching screams, his contribution doesn't really make the song a unique force. Of course at this point, we're left asking that if there was really any point of Memphis May Fire roping in guest vocalists. little difference is made.

 Perhaps the notion of getting guest singers seems wrong as Challenger feels like a Memphis May Fire made square on with 100% genuineness and total passion to become the most prolific name of the NWOAMM. Indeed, the formula of the songs on board aren't exactly original, but they are practiced with more energy and passion that can right now only be matched by The Word Alive who have proved themselves to be frankly unbeatable. However, Challenger has clearly been made with high levels of ambition and if the full sense of ambition on the album is reflected by the album's actual reaction, then it will become the definitive album of this wave of metalcore above all others.






Memphis May Fire's Challenger is out now via Rise. The band will tour the UK in October with Of Mice & Men and Secrets.

Review: Baroness - Yellow & Green

 It's difficult to think of a band that has been so consistently breathtaking and so criminally underrated as Baroness have been. With Red Album and Blue Record being works of metallic art that thinks outside the box, they are truly deserving to be up with Mastodon, Tool and Isis as one of the most respectable monikers in progressive metal. Having so far strongly upheld a strong metallic undertone to their sludgy mix of progressive rock, punk and indie rock, listeners have so far found themselves perplexed by the sometimes softer tones that sprawl across the wonderfully constructed double album that is Yellow & Green, but if you truly appreciate rock music as a whole, this album should serve as an absolute treasure.

 I say this on account of the fact that a band can create a masterpiece. We've already seen masterpieces come out this year, wether they be from Gojira, Candlemass or even the Japandroids. But these are masterpieces that have come from bands that have established their own sound and know what they're doing with it, only they take the sound to new levels. With Baroness, there's always been a sense of eclecticism throughout their previous work but listeners have always known that they'd be in for some rumbling riffs and pounding basslines and drumbeats. But with Yellow & Green you can never be so sure of what you're in for and with every corner of the album comes a new surprise. And every surprise that comes is one that leaves you craving more.

 That's not to say that the thunderous rumbling doesn't exist. Opener Take My Bones Away opens with a severe punch of heavily layered punk riffage from frontman John Baizley who with his beautiful vocal calls and dazzling synthesizer makes the song a work of sonic wonder as well as proving that in spite of all the pre-album cynicysm that the Savannah quartet can still be crushingly heavy.

 With the uplifting stomp and riff fueled rush of March to the Sea, Little Things, Green Theme and The Line Between there is absolutely no doubt that Baroness' metal roots still remain bursting through, only they allow a greater wave of atmospheric power to encircle it and elevate the emotional tone that each song provides into higher levels.

 And it's the wide emotional spectrum that allows Baroness to grip listeners in their entirety. Throughout the wondrous distortion of the band's metal and indie rock inspired moments, and the more delicate acoustic led beauty of the likes of Twinkler, Eula and Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor) there are tones of love, loss, despair, wonder, urgency, curiosity and overwhelming beauty. There isn't a style that the band plays that doesn't emit a sense of emotion, from the empathetic softer moments to the rush of Cocanium and Sea Lungs that plays out with a chilled vibe of the classic rock of the 70's and 80's with an extra spike of modern urgency.

 Really, with the wide range of influences, wide emotional spectrum and ability to create otherworldly soundscapes, Yellow & Green proves itself to be a double album of total wonder and beauty that proves Baroness to be a band with the kind of musical grace, understanding and maturity to turn their music into a new pinnacle in the world of rock and metal music to make them a band of incredible influence and ability to muster up a masterpiece along with Mastodon, Tool and Isis. And when Mastodon released The Hunter last year, it was an album I listened to knowing that they had become a band with music the world had been waiting for. This time round, Baroness have done it. And it's created the same feeling taken to a higher level than ever. There isn't a single person that can't get behind this album. Once again, if you love rock music or music in general, this is your treasure for 2012.






Baroness' Yellow & Green is out now via Relapse. The band will tour the UK in August.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review: Pierce the Veil - Collide With the Sky

 With members that have already spent time splashing around the Los Angeles punk scene and constant touring with some of the bigger names in the world of melodic post hardcore music like A Day to Remember, Blessthefall and The Blackout, Pierce the Veil have become a band that clearly know what they're doing to make an impact in a world where poppy hooks and brutal breakdowns go together like music festivals and relentless levels of mud and on their third effort Collide With the Sky, the band's moments to truly showcase their talents comes shining through after much anticipation. While in this ever-prominent musical world of pop-core, for lack of a better term music, it will make them new stars, but it's not going to make them stand out in the world of modern music by any means.

 The notion of My Chemical Romance being viewed as an influential band rather than a band with cool spiked up pop punk songs with a darkened edge may terrify a lot of people, but Pierce the Veil have certainly made such a concept come to life, as Hell Above and A Match Into Water immediately brings up too prominent a reminiscence to more than half the material from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge which isn't at all helped by the vocals of Vic Fuentes effectively emulating those of Gerard Way.

 Still, the MCR comparisons aside, the band prove themselves to be continuously effective at creating songs with a post hardcore influence with massive dollops of melody and a massive spread of pop-based gleam. In the frantic rush of pinwheel riffing from Fuentes and Tony Perry's guitar work that lights up Bulls in the Bronx and The First Punch as well as the slicker swing of One Hundred Sleepless Nights and the Jimmy Eat World-esque power pop stomp of Hold On Til May, it's obvious that Pierce the Veil can become a band that will simply light up in the same way that Chiodos and Dance Gavin Dance lit up in the mid 2000's before those band's frontmen hit the hash. As well as this, the use of electronics is an undeniable force across the album, bringing extra layers of excitement into the likes of Stained Glass Eyes & Colorful Tears.

 The band's desires to move onward into one of the bigger names in the new wave of post-hardcore bands is obviously aided with guest appearances from some of the bigger names in the business. The appearance of  Jason Butler of letlive. (A band I have tried incredibly hard to get into and failed on every occasion) on Tangled in the Great Escape reveals to some degree the sense of dichotomy that exists within the world of the emo friendly post-hardcore revolution, as Fuentes and Butler effectively trade lines across the song, leaving listeners with the glossed up MCR-impression vocals of Fuentes beside the grittier more bluesy tones of Butler. It's quite a refreshing contrast and is certainly a more refreshing moment than the earlier appearance from Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens (Again, a band I've really wanted to dig but just can't) whose now famously near-androgynous vocal  performance on King For a Day really just makes the song very difficult to settle into on the whole.

 Just as a balance between worthy and unsettling appears on the front of guest vocalists, much of the electronic moments across Collide With the Sky serve as a real letdown along with the rest of the songs. I'm Low On Gas and You Need a Jacket finds itself packed with the kind of electronic backdrops that sound akin to a broken Windows 98 system, while much of the synthesizer backdrops really just come with the task of disguising a collection of dull breakdowns from falling completely flat.

 On the whole Collide With the Sky proves itself to be an album worthy of praise in the ever expanding realms of pop based hardcore music that particularly with it's My Chemical Romance influence, shows a sense of musical evolution as bands that started in a previous generation begins to show signs of influence. However, it's not the best album that this "genre" in question has on offer, particularly when we can look to the more beefed up offerings from The Word Alive or Memphis May Fire for better examples of metal and poppy backdrops done well. Maybe it's the sense that they actually have gone too over the top, which probably shouldn't be the case for this style but, if they want to deliver something more solid, perhaps they should learn that less sometimes has the ability to be more.



Pierce the Veil's Collide With the Sky is out now via Fearless. The band will tour the UK in September with Crown the Empire.

Review: Rush - Clockwork Angels

 Is there anything I could possibly say that hasn't already been added to the never-ending amounts of praise given towards Rush? They're the world's biggest cult band. It's music made by a trio of musical experts for musical experts. The only people I've heard speak about them are those who I truly consider qualified rock music fanatics. And of course, there hasn't been any prog rock or metal band that hasn't cited them as an influence. And of course, with the band's ability to be truly progressive across their near 40 year musical career, their nineteenth release Clockwork Angels reveals a further expansion on their musical journey while keeping in touch with what has established them as such a classic band.

 Straight from the tolling bell, an often unsettling sign in music, that opens Caravan listeners are launched straight into a journey of excitement through orchestrations of calmly toned chaos and swinging riffs that immediately re-affirms previous fans and those that know a little less about the band than others, like myself, that Alex Lifeson is a guitar god. The intense pulse that jolts across the storming title track and Headlong Flight gives the an extra layer of heart-racing adrenaline and delirium that makes the journey extra wondrous. And of course, it serves as another reason as to why you can only agree whenever someone says that Neil Peart is the greatest drummer in the world.

 Indeed, Rush's ability to never downplay their ability to stay relevant and never re-hash old material remains apparent across the freshness of Clockwork Angels along with being able to uphold the spirit of older classics. Halo Effect transcends into the kind of stomping rhythms that have made Hemispheres and Moving Pictures such undisputed classics, while the crunching riffage and rumbling basslines and smooth-and-simultaneously jarring vocal calls of Geddy Lee on  BU2B has a reminiscence to their more modern contemporaries in Mastodon or Isis.

 Needless to say, with the general prog fanbase not exactly being the youngest and trendiest of audiences, there's always going to be a demand for undisputed classics and Clockwork Angels is no 2112 or Hemispheres but at the same time, it serves as a tremendous display of Lifeson, Lee and Peart doing what they do best and demonstrating their musical virtuosity, especially with the album being an improvement upon 2007's Snakes & Arrows and a greater attempt to really absorb listeners within a warmer production that really invites listeners to the class of Seven Cities of Gold and the melancholic grandeur that closes the album on The Garden.

 So, with much wonder and beauty on offer across, Clockwork Angels makes itself not a classic Rush album but an undeniably solid release that proves that the Canadian trio are still capable of launching listeners into a world of total wonder and immersion that leaves a lasting impact that proves not only how talented Rush are at creating layered otherworldly soundscapes but have the musical ability to just rock the fuck out! It's rare that a band reaches their nineteenth album these days and you never know how many more albums they have in them, but if that does happen, they can certainly go out on a high note.






 Rush's Clockwork Angels is out now via Roadrunner. The band will tour the UK in May 2013.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Live review: T in the Park 2012, Balado Airfield, Kinross, Sunday 8th July

 As the Sunday morning innocently presented itself as a day with no rain and lots of potential and friends still felt a sense of achievement in picking up girls, we awoke and celebrated our good fortune by drinking lots of alcohol. At no point did we think our day would be spent meeting some other old friends from school, or having to fight off some drugged up losers that lived next to them with words, but these were just some of the delights the day presented itself with.


 But, let's try and focus on the more music related delights. You might think I'd go into detail about how terrible I thought the set from McFly was and no matter how much they want to be a rock band, their music remains watered down pop rock for kids. But I won't even bother. More importantly however, is the sharp and utterly immense show from Twin Atlantic, a band rising at a fairly rapid rate to become the UK's favourite names in modern rock music. They're easy to fall in love with as frontman Sam McTrusty addresses the crowd, stating that it was just four years ago that they were the ones buying their tickets and camping int the mud before launching into heartfelt renditions of Yes I Was Drunk and Dreamember before triumphantly closing the set with Make a Beast of Myself and Free, where looking around, you can't see one hand that's not in the air or hear one voice that's not singing along. Welcome to being celebrated rock stars guys!




Bombay Bicycle Club don't really seem like a band that should have become so massive. Their daintily played songs with undeniably strong melodies should have been one that stayed underground for hipsters. Yet, they've gotten to the point where songs like Beg and Ivy & Gold can be pulled off with total genuineness on the main stage and everyone can dance to them with a massive grin on their face. It's a pleasant surprise for all involved.


 I've never actually given Keane much coverage on this blog before, and frankly don't expect me to start any time soon, but with their array of well crafted pop rock songs, they take to the stage armed with hit after hit, as the likes of Spiralling and Crystal Ball has everyone on their feet moving, while the delicate anthemic qualities of Somewhere Only We Know and Bedshaped has everyone swinging their arms with a sense of major triumph. It's a beautiful moment for the band that many assumed had become washed up and irrelevant. They can still hold a massive audience in the palm of their hand.



 And if their performance sees people being held in place, what follows is people being let loose to cause total mayhem. I'd heard good things about Chase and Status as we made our way to the front of the row, that despite being a dance act, they could put on a fierce show that even convinced Download Festival, but as good old Duncan and I found ourselves near the front and met two girls that I had never seen in my life but Duncan remembered from a party in January, who then proceeded to cover us in face paint, I wondered just how violent the show could really get. Within five minutes of them opening My face paint was pretty much replaced by mud and bruises. The static playing of delirious dubstep tunes with greasy breakdowns effortlessly brought out the more energetic and brutal sides in the people there, creating even bigger mosh pits than Enter Shikari. And it's when they unleash the instantly recognizable bassline from 1992 and blasting synthesizers begin pumping out beats that replicate Tom Morello guitar riffs, that everything becomes total carnage. They launch into their cover of Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name and by the time they have I've already found myself in the centre of the pit grabbing onto the head of some guy I've never met, as he does likewise and start screaming at each other. Anyway, sorry to spoil your reunion pleasantries Duncan.


 You can always rely on Elbow to give a solid charismatic performance, as Guy Garvey always presents himself as a frontman of clear charm and class. Their overall performances sometimes have a thing for falling short of expectation and while the amount of people waving their hands to One Day Like This stretches to the back of the stage, other performances of the likes of The Birds, Mirrorball and the simply amazing Grounds for Divorce don't really sound as good as they do on record. Plus the set leans very heavily on material from The Seldom Seen Kid and Build a Rocket Boys! Not that that's strictly a bad thing, it would just be fun to see more Leaders of the Free World material be played. Anyway, I'll save writing about the headliner for the end, so I can finish the review in a major epic way.


 Over at the Radio 1/NME Stage, proceedings don't really get off to a good start. I just say that because I really don't like The Subways, the first act taking to the stage. And with their selection of lame indie rock songs with bland lyrics unleashed in full force and a rather lame unenthusiastic crowd reaction, I can look smugly at their efforts and continue to state that they're a shit band. Ha. And Billy Lunn can jump impressively all he wants. His music is still terrible.


 Obviously the levels of enthusiasm and musical quality move to a higher position when the stage is graced by the wonderful presence of folk punk troubadours Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls who launch into their set with a graceful performance of If Ever I Stray before gently turning out a set of beautifully crafted songs with the kind of lyrics people get tattooed on their arms (Rather than pictures of pandas, eh?) so strong are their messages and beauty. Turner's sense of soul and passion really lights up the stage.


 At the King Tuts Wah Wah Tent, the events are kicked off by Ireland's indie starts The Coronas, who deal in the same kind of soft, delicate and passionate indie rock that Snow Patrol deal in with perhaps a bit more of a stomp and a greater level of hooks. It certainly serves as a most effective way for punters to shake off the Saturday Night drunken blues. Eerugh, no photos!

 At some point after The Coronas, the King Tut's tent gets absolutely jammed with people for a certain set of minutes and it's obvious as to why, it's time for a set from Fun. who put on as energetic performances as they can during the auto tune heavy Some Nights but the only reason that anyone is here today is to hear the colossal We Are Young. So, they give their all in that performance, but they're not exactly winning any new bands. They're not winning me over.


 When the tent next fills up, it's for more genuine reasons than just one song. Everyone wants to stick around to hear indie rock's new poster boy Miles Kane, who's performances of Inhaler and Better Left Invisible are packed with breathtaking levels of energy and raw passion making it something of an unexpected highlight... that... I... never... saw. Some critics have been saying his music is like The Beatles of this generation. When you really take in performances like these, it's understandable.


 Armed with a collection of short and blindingly sweet indie tunes, The Enemy blast into power at the King Tuts. Having created solidified modern classics like Away From Here and We'll Live and Die in These Towns and have also found themselves back on the rise with life-affirming new anthems from Streets in the Sky, the audience light up for them. Needless to say, the audience light up for them with hands flung up in the air.


  On a sharp contrast, The Enemy is followed by a set of turntables, dazzling visual effects and musicians that have a strong idea of how to make a room jump up and down. Without any real interaction and a seamless flow to their songs, Nero get the room on their feet effortlessly, as delirious jumping and screaming along to the the dubstep tunes occurs with the playing of Promises and Me and You. The bass is monolithic and probably serves as half the reason the tent is jumping up and down. It's literally incredible. When it concludes, I am left with a polar opposite reaction to the total denial of dubstep from other rock fans. Dubstep is rock n' roll.


 And if dubstep is the new rock n' roll, then like rock n' roll it needs an icon. And in terms of icons, Skrillex is dubstep's Slash, only without the top hat, the shades in the glasses and half the hair is missing. And of course, instead of shredding, his basic action is to press a Play button on a computer, dance around in a crazy style and use massive electronic effects and visual displays, while the mentally constructed musical arrangements he's composed blares out with equally crunching bass. And you know, it works. During the breakdowns in First of the Year (Equinox) and favourite of all my friends Breakin' a Sweat, there is essentially one massive moshpit. The entire gig is a moshpit!!! Fuck yeah!!!


 Lots of new names in alt rock are appearing at the Transmission Stage today, starting with Zulu Winter, whose run through on icy indie rock songs makes them sound like the missing link between White Lies and Coldplay. The tunes are a bit unimpressive but are enough to wake up the crowd in style and of course prepare the crowd for a much cooler line up of rock and roll bands.


 Following Zulu Winter is a much cooler prospect. Minneapolis quintet Howler board the stage packed with hard hitting riffs packed in the form of melodic surf rock songs. With hits like Back of Your Neck and I Told You Once on their side and a legion of new fans that have worked out that they're different to any other bands emerging from the indie scene this year, they storm the set with ease. Where are the photos? They're actually good!

 It;s difficult to imagine the kind of crowd that Spector can draw in, but with their immersive backdrops fitted into firm melodies and the bizarre-yet-immensely talented vocal performance of Fred Macpherson and of course massive positivity from good old NME, there's a big crowd to joyfully sing along to Never Fade Away. It's a sweet sight and you can imagine they're going to go far.


 Moving from simple indie bands to some very pure rock n' roll the stage is taken to by the dusty riffage of Band of Skulls. Onstage, the performance of Bruises and The Devil Takes Care of His Own present them to be a much more fierce act onstage that aren't afraid to get more in your face. Especially with the vocals of Emma Richardson having a more prominent appearance, the run-through's of their songs are so much more wild and chaotic. It is rock and roll.


 Returning to a poppier front of alt rock with a more chart friendly edge, Reverend & the Makers charge through their major hits Heavyweight Champion of the World and new The Wrestler with great ease. Having returned from a brief hiatus, the band are on top form, but ultimately the band prove themselves to be a band that provides some basic indie rock songs, that have been around along enough to be popular.


 Probably one of the most sophisticated bands on the bill are tonight's headlining set from The Horrors, whose third album Skying was one of my favourite albums of last year. The selection of hook filled dream pop melodies on Still Life and Changing the Rain charm the audiences, causing a major swing within the audience as well as making them all dance and swat arms. Yeah, it was pretty much a perfect way for the stage to go out. No photography. Sorry.

 I should really talk about the set from Dry the River, but I need to leave soon, so I don't think I'll be able to so let's move onto the main event that ended the night and the festival.

 And what a set it was, with the exception of Enter Shikari, these guys were the highlight of the weekend. Kasabian take to the stage with bouncing energy and charisma as with the intro of buzzing electronics, they launch into a storming rendition of Days Are Forgotten. From there on, we are treated to some of their greatest hits that let the crowd go absolutely mental as well as letting some lesser known songs like I.D., one of my favourite songs from their debut album come out, serving as a massive treat. However, for the most part, we are treated by fucking anthems. Shoot the Runner gets everyone up on their feet and has everyone screaming "I'm the king and you're my queen BITCH!", Club Foot creates a massive moshpit that sends everyone into a complete frenzy, while the performance of L.S.F. gets everyone falling in love with them all over again, which is also created by Tom Meighan's demands for people to create love hearts with hands, which is simply adorable. As they go offstage, it's the chanting of the song's "Na na na" section that really proves how loved they are. And when they come back and finally end proceedings with a storming performance of Fire. It's simply ecstatic and the most amazing way to go out.






 So, hashed out and one of the last things I can write for the next week since I'm heading off back to another camp, these are some of my mini reviews of the rock bands at T in the Park. I had a hell of an experience watching these bands that I've loved for years and never heard and to hear them play amongst crowds that are so in love with the bands is such an incredible experience that I wouldn't turn my back on for anything in the world. I had lots of great times in and out of the festival, meeting new people and discovering how I can deal with being drunk out of my fucking mind, setting me up for adult life. All my fellow T comrades; Callum, Russell, Xander, Mark, Grant, Vivek, Duncan, if you read this, you're all fucking heroes. And well, same time next year?