BLACK OUT THE SUN
In 2013, there are not many bands where I actually get excited to hear they have a new release coming out. For a lot of reasons, the whole specter of a new release just doesn't get me anticipating things like it used to. In large part, it's because I get everything sent to me months in advance that takes away from the real excitement of a release. For a few bands though, I literally can't wait each and every time for new music. Sevendust is one such band. Without question, they are my favorite band of the modern era; a band criminally underappreciated when you consider that lesser bands like Disturbed and Korn surpassed them greatly in popularity throughout their respective runs. I'm so much of a fan that I'm traveling twice in a month to see them - once in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then a few weeks later in Columbus, Ohio. So, when BLACK OUT THE SUN was provided, you can bet your ass that it hit my iPod and stayed there for weeks.
I'm not sure how a band with as much talent and as many reasons to like them has turned out to be so incredibly uninteresting, but that's exactly what Adrenaline Mob has become to me. I am one of the biggest fans there is of vocalist Russell Allen. Love his work in Symphony X. Love what he's done with Jorn Lande. Hell, I was probably the biggest fan going of his ATOMIC SOUL solo album. While I'm not a fan of drummer Mike Portnoy's previous band Dream Theater, I have nothing but respect of this guy's undeniable talent as one of the most elite drummers on the planet. Yet, try as I might, I cannot get into Adrenaline Mob at all. Their debut release was pretty average and unmemorable. They quickly followed that up with a covers album - bleh. Covers releases are as useless as tits on a chick I can't have or see because she's dating a close friend.
Hammerfist are a no bullshit Hardcore band from Southern California. They are not the kind of guys that will look to explain out the deeper meaning of their songs, or the instrumental idiosyncrasies of their various guitar tones or drum beats. To the contrary, Hammerfist seem like a band that would look you in the eye and say, "here's our shit, so deal with it!" Fair enough. Since I assume this about them, I'll give a little of that back to them. No BSing around here, and no looking for a lot of words to say. ISOLATION is a pretty damn solid hardcore EP that would certainly please the Agnostic Fronts and Integritys of the world for developing their influences into something tangible in 2013. There's a LOT of power here on ISOLATION, and a lot of from the heart energy that's poured into each and every song.
Kyler is a band that I really know NOTHING about. By nothing, I mean that I can find almost nothing at all about them online, so even a quick run through Google didn't help to figure out just what makes this band tick. So, in many ways, this review has to be old school and based solely on old school habits. In short, this band HAS to be reviewed solely based on what I hear in my ears. Fair enough!
Kyler's SWAGGER is a band that reminds me of a lot of great influences from other bands that I enjoy a great deal. Throughout any given song, influences of bands like Pantera and Lamb Of God come screaming through. At other times, you feel a kinship with modern bands like Texas Hippie Coalition. SWAGGER is full of giant guitars, monsterous riffs, gutteral vocals that are clean enough to understand, and a hodge podge of traditional thrash and metalcore stylings that just plain works.
I've been dreading writing this review for a really long time, but I can't dodge it any longer. As much as Iron Maiden is one of the CORE bands of my entire existence, saying that BRITISH LION is anything but mediocre to subpar drivel is impossible. Certainly, the guys from Iron Maiden have done projects outside the band before. Bruce Dickinson's solo career is astoundingly good. Adrian Smith's Psycho Motel albums weren't bad either. But this...ugh. It hurts to write, because more than anything else, Steve Harris basically IS Iron Maiden. He's the maestro of their sound, the creative force behind the band. He's the producer. He's just about everything for Maiden. That said, you have to wonder just why he brought NONE of that skillset to this project that has his name on top of it. BRITISH LION is a dull, drab collection of songs with fairly subpar production value (for which Kevin Shirley should be ashamed for taking a check considering the mix of this turd). Listening to this and even remotely comparing this sound to ANYTHING Iron Maiden has released since, say, 1985 leaves you wondering why Harris didn't just scrap this or put more money into it to make it sound better.
24 STRINGS & A DRUMMER: LIVE AND ACOUSTIC
Night Ranger and Loverboy were two bands that were, pretty much in my eyes, linked together back in the 80s. There was something about the two of them. They weren't quite metal bands at the time, and there was something that was catchy about both but never led you to think they were anything more than cookie cutter hard rock bands. Night Ranger was my favorite of the two, because they weren't all whiny and wrote better songs than Loverboy. I'm sure many of the chicks that were 15 or so during that era would probably disagree with that assessment, but so bet it. It's interesting how at this phase of their careers, both have re-recorded their hits right now for releases to appease the old guard. For Loverboy, their re-recordings was an abortion of epic proportions that pretty much proved they should retire. While Night Ranger is probably a few decades too late to be releasing an UNPLUGGED effort, I'd be lying if I said this wasn't fairly catchy and fun.